Michigan Strategic Fund Launches Program to Encourage Industry 4.0 Adoption

The Michigan Strategic Fund in Lansing has approved a statewide effort to ensure 50 percent of Michigan manufacturers, or about 6,200 businesses, are prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technology at some level by 2025, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced Tuesday.
smart factory
The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved an effort to ensure half of Michigan businesses are ready to adopt Industry 4.0 technology by 2025. // Stock photo

The Michigan Strategic Fund in Lansing has approved a statewide effort to ensure 50 percent of Michigan manufacturers, or about 6,200 businesses, are prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technology at some level by 2025, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced Tuesday.

Industry 4.0 refers to the convergence of digital and physical technologies, including artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, the cloud, and cybersecurity.

About 42 percent of Michigan’s current labor force could be negatively impacted by automation, according to MEDC, and with MEDC’s focus on retaining companies and fostering high-wage skills growth in target industries such as advanced manufacturing, there is a need for a multipronged effort to ensure Michigan’s small to medium-sized manufacturers adopt the new technology.

“Michigan is the place where manufacturing and technology come together to create a more productive industry and resilient workforce,” says Mark Burton, CEO of MEDC. “We are once again using innovative public-private partnerships to create solutions to Michigan’s most pressing economic challenges. In this case, we’re working to ensure Industry 4.0 readiness for our small and medium-sized manufacturers, which will protect our leadership in manufacturing and position our workforce for success.”

The initiative will work to drive awareness of the importance of Industry 4.0 readiness and provide technical support to small and medium-sized manufacturers through partnerships with Troy’s Automation Alley and Plymouth Township’s Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. A request for proposals for a grant program of up to $2 million to support regional needs related to Industry 4.0 readiness that is separate from the Automation Alley and Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center efforts was also approved.

As part of the initiative, the fund approved the following:

  • A $2.5 million agreement with Automation Alley to provide outreach and Industry 4.0 readiness assessments to manufacturers across the state;
  • A $3.05 million agreement with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center to provide outreach, education, and Industry 4.0 technical assessments to manufacturers across the state;
  • The authorization of up to $2 million in grant funding and the issuance of a request for proposals from Michigan-based nonprofit or governmental regional organizations for grants to increase manufacturers’ readiness to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies; and
  • $1 million to McCann Detroit for an in-state advertising campaign specific to Industry 4.0 awareness and availability for services.

Automation Alley will deliver additional support services specific to adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies through education and Industry 4.0 readiness leadership assessments and evaluations. The nonprofit is a manufacturing and technology business association that works to help companies increase revenue, reduce costs, and think strategically as they implement Industry 4.0 technologies.

“Automation Alley is laser focused on ensuring Michigan small and medium-sized manufacturers are aware of how Industry 4.0 will impact their businesses and the strategic steps they must take to begin or advance their digital transformation,” says Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley.

“Technology is moving at break-neck speed, and our manufacturers cannot afford to be left behind. We must take action now if we wish to remain a globally relevant manufacturing powerhouse. We are honored to partner with the MEDC on this initiative to further boost our efforts, and we look forward to welcoming more companies into our ecosystem so they may learn to harness the power of Industry 4.0 and reap its benefits.”

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center will offer assessments to small and medium-sized businesses to demonstrate opportunities for business improvement and increased efficiency and create personalized plans for technology implementation within each facility, technology roadshows to present each of the Industry 4.0 technologies through interactive experiences, and course trainings.

“We appreciate the MEDC and the Michigan Strategic Fund for their leadership with this initiative and the opportunity to collaborate for the benefit of our state’s manufacturers,” says Mike Coast, president of the center.

“With this additional funding, we will expand our work with Michigan’s small and medium-size manufacturers, serving as trusted advisers, to identify and implement technologies that make the most sense for their operation and that will enable them to manufacture smarter, thrive, and prosper in an increasingly challenging and global business environment.”

MEDC will launch an advertising campaign to connect these manufacturers to the resources provided through the new program. The campaign is scheduled launch in early 2021 and will include advertising, social media, events, and more.

Michigan has the fifth largest advanced manufacturing workforce in the country with more than 13,000 workers employed in industries related to Industry 4.0 and automation, the most in the nation.

MEDC is the state’s marketing arm. It works to grow Michigan’s economy.