Posted on 4/24/2019

National Industry 4.0 Policy is Key to U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness

Tom Kelly

Industry 4.0 is having a dramatic technical and cultural impact as it disrupts socio-technical ecosystems in the state of Michigan and around the world. Today, in factories across the globe, manufacturers are attempting to keep pace with the speed of technological change. Connected, smart factories are creating new ways to design and produce products, changing the way companies operate and revolutionizing the role humans will play in the labor economy.

By 2025, Industry 4.0 is expected to generate close to $1 trillion in economic value. Through Industry 4.0, large manufacturers are becoming more streamlined, efficient, agile and are seeing improved production outputs and increased sales. However, to unlock the true potential of this revolution, all businesses along the supply chain must adapt and implement a digital mindset. 

According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that currently do not exist. 

Here in Michigan, we have an incredible opportunity to become the national leader in the implementation of Industry 4.0 because of our manufacturing prowess. This is a region with a high concentration of skilled talent, unparalleled knowledge of how the supply chain works and a vision for the future.

The full impact of Industry 4.0 remains to be seen and is rightly of concern to the state and the World Economic Forum. Currently, there are no unified U.S. national policies aimed at Industry 4.0 integration, implementation and education (as in Europe and Asia).

Industrie 4.0 is the name given to the German strategic initiative to establish Germany as a lead market and provider of advanced manufacturing solutions, technological leadership in industrial production and research and development.

Made in China 2025 is a strategic plan of China issued by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his cabinet in May 2015. The goals of Made in China 2025 include increasing the Chinese-domestic content of core materials to 40% by 2020 and 70% by 2025.

Society 5.0, proposed as a future society that Japan should aspire to, follows the hunting society (Society 1.0), agricultural society (Society 2.0), industrial society (Society 3.0), and information society (Society 4.0). It is defined as a human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space.

Michigan, through Automation Alley and in partnership with the World Economic Forum, is positioned well to lead the U.S. in Industry 4.0 policy creation. We must not take a backseat to North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and other innovation hubs.

Michigan will be a major battleground state in 2020 and presidential candidates will have to address Industry 4.0. Government should be focused on new ways of collaboration to ensure the successful implementation of sustainable manufacturing technologies and interaction between startups, SMEs, academia, industry and government.

Automation Alley is in favor of a national Industry 4.0 policy.  Other countries have made it priority and we should follow suit—it is necessary for our nation to remain globally competitive. Michigan has the potential to be a leader in Industry 4.0 implementation, but only if government makes it a priority

About the Author

Tom Kelly | Automation Alley

Tom Kelly is a nationally and globally recognized expert on Industry 4.0 and its impact on business. As executive director and CEO of Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, Kelly oversees strategic planning and all ongoing activities for the organization, including programs and services designed to help businesses increase revenue, reduce costs and think strategically during a time of rapid technological change.


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