Industry 4.0 campaign launched to support West Michigan manufacturers

West Michigan manufacturers will have a new resource to help them adopt smart technology.

Lakeshore Advantage — in partnership with The Right Place, Greater Muskegon Economic Development (GMED), Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West (The Center-West), and Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) — launched a West Michigan Industry 4.0 campaign to increase manufacturers’ smart manufacturing technology adoption readiness.

Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies into operations helps manufacturers to create opportunities for improved efficiency, higher revenues, and increased innovation. 
 
“With one in three of our region’s jobs in manufacturing, Industry 4.0 technologies are essential to West Michigan’s economic health,” says Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “This campaign will help to secure our region’s place as an Industry 4.0 leader, recognizing West Michigan as the place to be for leading-edge manufacturing technologies. We are grateful to our partners for collaborating on this initiative and are excited to continue working with employers and smart-manufacturing implementers as we focus on our region’s industry success.”  

Four counties 
 
Lakeshore Advantage received $92,787 in state grant funding to increase manufacturers’ Industry 4.0 technology adoption readiness. Close collaboration with regional economic development partners allows for the initiative to be extended to Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon, and Kent counties’ employers. 
 
"We are eager to launch this campaign to help our region’s manufacturers increase their global competitiveness through Industry 4.0 resources,” says Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place. “We need to drive new prosperity in our community, so it’s imperative that we empower businesses with the education and assets necessary for them to benefit from smart technologies and automation.”
 
The campaign includes a readiness assessment, informational case study videos, and a website where employers can learn more about statewide resources and tools available to them. These new resources will make Industry 4.0 and its benefits relevant to area manufacturers and connect them with next steps to implement new technologies. 
 
“We strongly encourage area manufacturers to visit the website, where they can hear directly from other companies about how Industry 4.0 has improved their business,” says Morgan Carroll, director of business development for GMED. “They can also access the assessment tool on the site at no cost. It will take them through a series of detailed questions to help identify areas within their organization that might need attention if they are going to remain competitive. This is something that every manufacturer should take advantage of.”

Fourth Industrial Revolution

These efforts help prepare West Michigan manufacturers to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies and reimagine how processes work and products are made in the 21st century, says Natalie Chmiko, vice president of Pure Michigan Business Connect and International Trade at MEDC.

“For Michigan to remain a global leader in manufacturing, it’s critical that we work together with manufacturers across the regional supply chain to ensure we are keeping up, and continuing to lead, in the next revolution in manufacturing,” Chmiko says. 
 
Industry 4.0, also known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” is the next phase of manufacturing improvement. Industry 4.0 is defined as the convergence of digital and physical technologies — or digitization — within the manufacturing sector. Industry 4.0 technology sectors include connected factories, data analytics, modeling and visualization, 3D printing, advanced robotics, and cybersecurity.
 
“Industry 4.0 helps make automation cost-effective, flexible, and accessible to smaller job-shop manufacturers like Impact Fab,” says Ross Haan, president of the custom fabrication shop and an adopter of Industry 4.0. “Integrating Industry 4.0 practices helped us increase productivity by more than three times from some of our previous manufacturing methods.”
 
More details about the program are available at https://i40.thecenterwest.org/ and statewide efforts at www.michiganbusiness.org/industry4-0.
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