Through collaboration Michigan is helping manufacturers make the transition to Industry 4.0 through education and strategic partnerships.

Michigan has been known for its prowess and productivity in manufacturing for more than 120 years and possesses the workforce, resources and high-tech ecosystem to help forward thinking companies align themselves with Industry 4.0. Defined as the convergence of digital and physical technologies within the manufacturing sector, Industry 4.0 includes a collection of six emerging sectors such as connected factories; data analytics; modeling, augmented and virtual reality; 3D printing; advanced robotics; and cybersecurity.

Michigan is already well-equipped to be a leader in these sectors by positioning its workforce and its companies at the forefront of these technologies. With the 5th largest advanced manufacturing workforce in the country, employing more than 13,000 workers in industries related to Industry 4.0, Michigan is leveraging its traditional manufacturing strengths and assets to continue to secure its place as the leader in high-tech manufacturing. Today, Michigan is focused on helping its manufacturers make the critical transition to Industry 4.0 through education, programming and strategic partnerships.

Building on a track record of success through collaboration, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is leading a signature Industry 4.0 initiative by partnering with Automation Alley and the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) to implement a multi-pronged effort to support more than 6,000 of Michigan’s small and medium manufacturers and put them in a position to be ready to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies by 2025. To increase awareness of the importance and resources available for Industry 4.0 readiness and to ensure long-term competitiveness of the state’s manufacturing sector, this initiative will support Michigan’s manufacturing community in the benefits of adopting these advanced technologies for both businesses and their workforce.

The MEDC’s Industry 4.0 initiative aims to help Michigan’s manufacturers understand and implement these types of advanced technologies, while building a robust pipeline of Industry 4.0-ready talent. This initiative is a proactive effort to ensure the adoption of automation and technology in manufacturing serves as a competitive advantage, rather than a vulnerability for the manufacturing sector and workforce. By implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, businesses can be more responsive to customer demand while striking a balance between superior quality and lower costs. Ultimately, adopting Industry 4.0 technologies is how manufacturers will be able to compete against the global manufacturing competition – and win.

Both Automation Alley and the MMTC are critical partners in positioning manufacturers for success with Industry 4.0 technologies. Through the statewide initiative, Automation Alley is tasked with providing outreach, and Industry 4.0 readiness assessments to manufacturers across the state building on its reputation as Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center.

For example, its Project DIAMOnD jumpstarted digital transformation by creating the largest blockchain-enabled 3D printer network in the nation, which consists of 300 connected 3D printers distributed to small- and medium-sized manufacturers through its grant program. The sheer number of printers, connected through optimal security technology, is democratizing Industry 4.0 application and accessibility for even Michigan’s smallest manufacturers.

Michigan: Accelerating Innovation in Manufacturing

MEDC is also collaborating with MMTC on the initiative to provide outreach, training events and Industry 4.0 technical assessments to Michigan manufacturers. As part of these efforts, MMTC is advancing adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies by Michigan manufacturers through development in areas including an in-depth assessment to demonstrate opportunities for business improvement and increased efficiency, a unique and personalized plan for technology implementation within each facility, technology roadshows to present each of the Industry 4.0 sectors through interactive experiences and course trainings, including a general overview and in-depth analysis of key technologies. This builds on MMTC’s ongoing partnership with the MEDC to help Michigan manufacturers work smarter, compete and prosper in an increasingly evolving business environment.

For the past century, Michigan has been synonymous with manufacturing. And, while proud of that deep heritage, it is increasingly redefining itself as being a leader for introducing technology onto factory floors, integrating high-tech solutions into traditional manufacturing processes. Through its collaborative Industry 4.0 initiative, the state is continuing to manufacture new ways to stay ahead, combining its proud heritage and technological expertise to develop the innovative, high-tech products of the future, all from right here in Michigan.  

For more information on Industry 4.0 resources in Michigan, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/industry4-0.