Rapid Ramp-up of PPE Production to Drive Oakland/Macomb Manufacturers With $12M in New Grants

Tapping its expertise in Industry 4.0 technologies, including AI, robotics, and big data, new grants for Automation Alley in Troy will boost work orders, add jobs, and lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign supply chains during a medical crisis.
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Automation Alley received grant money to help support medical manufacturing in Oakland and Macomb counties. // Stock photo

Tapping its expertise in Industry 4.0 technologies, including AI, robotics, and big data, new grants for Automation Alley in Troy will boost work orders, add jobs, and lessen the nation’s dependence on foreign supply chains during a medical crisis.

Automation Alley, the World Economic Forum’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America, today received a $10 million grant from Oakland County and a $2 million grant from Macomb County to help each county’s manufacturing base purchase and implement Industry 4.0 technologies that can be used in direct support of manufacturing PPE.

The Personal Protective Equipment Resilience Grant Program, announced today at Automation Alley’s headquarters in Troy, is funded by the counties and administered by Automation Alley. It addresses how the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping and accelerating the digital transformation of the manufacturing sector.

The grant will further mobilize “our region with Industry 4.0 technologies in preparation for future disruptions,” says Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley. He adds the counties have recognized “the need for rapid ramp-up to Industry 4.0 in our immediate manufacturing base and to position our region as an agile, digital-ready essential source of PPE in times of national crisis.”

In remarks at the announcement, Coulter noted the county’s relationship with Automation Alley and the role it plays in advanced manufacturing. He said the grants will assist “health care professionals, first responders, and residents” as well as help “small and medium manufacturers obtain the technologies they need to stay relevant in a changing world.”

Hackel acknowledges that the grant will be welcome news for manufacturers in his county.

“Faced with economic uncertainty, it is incumbent we develop inventive ways to aid our business community,” Hackel says. “With the strategic leadership of Automation Alley, we are leveraging global best practices to position local companies to be at the forefront of technological innovation and workplace safety.”

Oakland and Macomb county-based manufacturers interested in applying for the Personal Protective Equipment Resilience Grant Program can find more information and a link to the application here.

Industry 4.0 technologies for the purposes of this grant program refer to: Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, The Cloud, cybersecurity, additive manufacturing (3-D Printing), advanced materials, modeling, simulation, visualization, and immersion (MSVI).

Industry 4.0 technologies enable rapid and resilient responses to catastrophic events. The following are some examples of their use during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Digital factory and MSVI technologies used to model TCF Center in Detroit.
  • Additive manufacturing used to produce ventilator parts and molds, and PPE.
  • Big data used to assess COVID-19 spread, behaviors, and trends.
  • Cybersecurity technologies critical for secure contact tracing.

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