Automation Alley Reports Challenges, Opportunities Come with Continued Technological Evolution of Industry 4.0


Automation Alley, a technology and manufacturing business association in Troy, released a report today that shows industrial and manufacturing businesses that swiftly move to adopt the principles of Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will outpace their competition, gain efficiencies, and boost profits.

The report was released today at the Technology in Industry Reveal event at the Detroit Institute of Arts. More than 300 guests attended.

“Last year was the first time we tackled the topic of Industry 4.0 in our Technology Report, surveying national and regional technology and manufacturing leaders to gauge whether they were ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley. “What we found from that initial survey in 2017 was that most executives either lacked awareness of Industry 4.0 altogether or were experiencing barriers to adoption. That was truly the impetus towards our own Industry 4.0 evolution and the reason the 2018 report is so robust.”

Titled Harness the Power of Industry 4.0, the report is comprised of engineering trends, challenges, opportunities, and implications for industry. It is designed to help manufacturers, educators, and policy makers keep pace with technological changes. Research is centered on the eight core technologies of Industry 4.0: the industrial internet of things; robotics; artificial intelligence; big data; cloud computing; cybersecurity; advanced materials and additive manufacturing; and modeling, simulation, visualization, and immersion.

The report found that while data and information are valuable and plentiful, companies will be able to differentiate themselves by the people, tools, and execution put toward using the data. The most successful users will take a real-time approach – analyze what is happening now to determine next steps.

The report also says that the most successful companies will be those that adopt a new mindset and skillset as technology continues to change. While some jobs will be eliminated by Industry 4.0, new and different types of work will emerge. However, domestic and foreign companies’ adoption and use of Industry 4.0 will not be identical or on the same timeline. International companies should avoid a one-size-fits-all approach for different branches. North American industries tend to be behind other countries when implementing new technology.

While automation will reshape the workforce and the smart factory floor, people will remain the greatest asset and hindrance to success, the report says. Effective workers will embrace discerning skills, or have conceptual and futuristic thinking; people skills; and purposeful skills, which involve self-starting and continuous learning.

This year’s research was compiled and analyzed by a team of academic and corporate partners, including researchers from the University of Detroit Mercy, Central Michigan University, Baker College, Oakland University, Lawrence Technological University, Oakland Community College, Macomb Community College, Ford Motor Co., Comau, Eaton, Fanuc, Siemens PLM, TTI Success Insights, Plante Moran, RSM, and the Workforce Intelligence Network.

“It’s fitting that academia, industry, and the nonprofit sector collaborated on this report, because an important takeaway from the findings is that Industry 4.0 readiness will require academic institutions to collaborate with industry and policy makers to realign and reform education around the needs of the marketplace,” says Kelly. “We appreciate the combined research efforts of our academic partners and corporate leaders in creating a report we believe offers critical considerations for next steps in Industry 4.0 implementation.”

The report can be purchased here.

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