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In Category: Innovation and Technology


Hype vs reality - Machine Learning in Manufacturing

By Jeeva Nadarajah | Serendip | 12/4/2019

We’ve learned that AI and machine learning can help manufacturing with predictive analytics, preventative maintenance, demand forecasting and so much more. But how do we actually get down to doing it? This week on the blog, Jeeva Nadarajah, founder and CEO of Serendip, a community of technologists and problem solvers, discusses AI and machine learning hype vs. reality and takes us through the AI pyramid.

Industry 4.0: It’s Not Just for Manufacturers!

By Bryan Powrozek | Clayton & McKervey | 11/20/2019

The term Industry 4.0 conjures up images of high-tech factories filled with connected robots performing work previously performed by people. However, the technologies that are enabling this transformation are not just confined to the plant floor. They are being used throughout organizations to drive efficiency and improve operational performance. Their reach is even felt in the world or professional services. This week on the blog, Bryan Powrozek of Clayton & McKervey discusses what companies must consider before moving forward with new technologies.

Stop! You don’t need an Industry 4.0 strategy

By Jerry Foster | Plex Systems | 11/6/2019

This week on the blog, Jerry Foster, CTO of Plex Systems, discusses how technology should be used as a tool, not an endgame while offering up his top three tips all manufacturers should consider to successfully adopt and benefit from Industry 4.0 technologies.

The Industrial Revolution of Electric Mobility

By Edward Mulford | Baker Tilly | 10/30/2019

Understanding the market dynamics of each Industrial Revolution sheds light on the evolving battle between electric and combustion engine vehicles. Why did electric vehicle adoption fail in the Second Industrial Revolution? Why will electronic vehicle adoption succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Edward Mulford of Baker Tilly explains, this week on the blog.

How manufacturers became world leaders in IoT adoption

By Çağlayan Arkan | Microsoft | 10/23/2019

Manufacturing continues to be an ideal proving ground for the Internet of Things (IoT), given the industry’s long history with operational efficiency programs like Six Sigma and the wealth of sensor-connected assets at companies’ disposal that they can use to enable IoT. This convergence is driving a new wave of innovation: using digitization to drive throughput, prevent costly product and asset failures, automate processes, digitize whole supply chains, and build new services that push the boundaries of what’s imaginable and possible. It’s no wonder Gartner projects industry spending on IoT to reach $670 billion by 2023.

Impact of Industry 4.0 on Product Lifecycle Management

By Joseph Lopez | PROSTEP, Inc. | 10/16/2019

Industry 4.0 is here, and it’s no secret that your business and product development processes will be affected. The Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), additive manufacturing and other innovative technologies add more dimension and depth to the never-ending amounts of data produced by the industry. How will you effectively manage and use this data to enhance your product development processes? It’s important to know the answer to this question, because Industry 4.0 shows no signs of slowing down. Read more this week on the blog.

Analytics are Key to Measuring Success of Industry 4.0 Public Relations Campaigns

By Mike Szudarek | Marx Layne & Company | 10/9/2019

In today’s competitive business climate, public relations and marketing have become essential tools for a business to thrive. This is true across the board, whether you are an automotive supplier, technology firm or another key Industry 4.0 stakeholder. Mike Szudarek of Marx Layne & Company joins us on the blog to talk about using analytics in your PR campaigns.

Machine Tending Becomes Mobile with Industry 4.0

By Thomas Post | CAPRIOL | 10/2/2019

Industrial automation has come a long way since Ford Vice President Delmar Harder coined the term in 1948. Now, as we edge closer to a new decade, industrial manufacturing is benefiting from the collective developments of the past. Industry 4.0 enables machine tending that is collaborative, mobile, and fueled by AI. This week on the blog, Thomas Post, CAPRIOL operations manager, discusses how to build a business case for mobile machine tending in industrial manufacturing.

OM5G: The Future of IoT Connectivity

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 9/25/2019

The global race to 5G—the fifth generation of wireless mobile internet connectivity—is critical to our nation’s economic and national security. But how do we get there? This week on the blog, Automation Alley's Noel Nevshehir discusses why we must be first to market and how this ultrafast technology has the potential to greatly impact multiple industries from autonomous vehicles and factory automation to remote health care, smart cities and more.

Is your beer connected? That's right. In an Industry 4.0 world, even the food and beverage industry can reap the benefits of digital technologies. Back in April, Grand Rapids-based tech company DornerWorks joined us on the blog to discuss how cloud-based solutions could improve monitoring to the brewing and distillation processes. This week, they are back to highlight the benefits they believe brewers would see if they could embrace the IoT revolution in fermentation monitoring. Imagine automated QA, reduced manual labor, reduction in human errors, AI-powered algorithms detecting issues long before a human could, making early predictions on completion dates and better, more consistent beer.

Why Should I Care About Industry 4.0?

By Ron Stuver | SICK, Inc. | 9/11/2019

We remember learning about “the” Industrial Revolution in school—the evolution from manual-labor to machine-based manufacturing. The larger theme was the transition from an economy that was primarily agrarian to industrialization. Today, the discussion is focused on Industry 4.0, or the fourth Industrial Revolution. Ron Stuver, a business consultant at SICK, Inc., discusses the importance of Industry 4.0 and why you should care.

What Jeopardy’s James Holzhauer teaches us about Industry 4.0 Adoption

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 9/4/2019

Pavan Muzumdar, COO of Automation Alley, discusses how James Holzhauer's record-breaking Jeopardy run can be applied to Industry 4.0 and could help businesses navigate through the rapidly changing and sometimes challenging digital landscape.

For small businesses, a DIY mindset can help unlock the true potential of Industry 4.0, but a lack of resources and finances can hinder progress. This week on the blog, DreamLab Industries discusses how using automation, IIoT, big data and other emerging technologies can free up employees to focus on finding new markets and new ways to innovate so that humans can do what they do best--serve customers, relate to them and help them find new solutions to some of their most difficult problems.

If your company had an overnight merger and suddenly grew twice its size, how would your IT department keep up? Brian Pleschourt, IT director at Sweet Harvest Foods, had to answer that question. He faced rapid growth when a larger company purchased the organization. "Instantly, we more than doubled in size, adding a California and Michigan location, combined with our two Minnesota locations," he explained.

7 Inspirational Quotes on Industry 4.0

By Staff | Automation Alley | 8/14/2019

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is radically changing the way we work and live. And while keeping up with the pace of technological change can feel overwhelming, costly and potentially insecure at times, it’s critical that manufacturers increase connectivity and adopt digital technologies to make better informed, data-driven decisions. If you are in need of some inspiration, we’ve compiled 7 inspirational quotes from Industry 4.0 influencers.

What happens when engineering, manufacturing and sales operate differently? Poor communication and errors can happen between departments. So, how can this be fixed? With Configit’s help, businesses can centralize all configuration rules into a single repository that feeds multiple ERP, PLM, sales and customer systems.

4th Industrial Revolution: Your technology shared with others for the good of all

By Élcio Brito | SPI System Integration | 7/31/2019

To go around in cities, do you resort to Uber? Do you use Airbnb to find accommodations? Be aware that these services could only become a reality when digital platforms brought offline assets to the online universe. Both Uber and Airbnb adopted a strategy known as asset hacking, which consists in taking over third-party assets to establish their business models.

This week’s top stories on Industry 4.0

By Automation Alley Staff | 7/17/2019

As Industry 4.0’s popularity continues to grow, so does the news surrounding the companies making their digital transformations. Businesses around the globe are not only becoming more familiar with connected and smart technologies like IoT and AI, but they are also beginning to see the benefits Industry 4.0 implementation is having to their bottom lines—helping operations run more smoothly and more efficiently. Industry 4.0 can be used almost anywhere—from factory floors to farmlands—and can assist in almost any type of work. This week on the blog, we’re highlighting this month’s top news stories on Industry 4.0.

Vestas has been at the forefront of wind energy for 40 years, introducing market-leading wind energy solutions that have taken wind energy from niche to mainstream. Building some of the most complex offerings on the market, Vestas was looking to improve a manufacturing process that requires numerous shop floor workers to put together thousands of materials in a critical step-by-step process. This week on the blog, find out how PTC, a software company specializing in the convergence of the physical and digital, helped Vestas take a digital-first approach to their build process.

Manufacturing's future must be government priority

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 7/3/2019

As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, here at Automation Alley we are also celebrating one of the things that makes our country so special — our strong manufacturing leadership. Last month, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters' call for a National Institute of Manufacturing was a welcome announcement in the Industry 4.0 era. 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. The U.S. — and Michigan in particular — must maintain our manufacturing prowess in a time of dramatic technical and cultural disruption.

Representatives from 10 of Michigan’s largest aerospace suppliers, distributors and manufacturers traveled to the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport last week. The representatives spent time exploring ways to increase trade opportunities through a trade mission lead by Automation Alley in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This year’s show was dominated by new technology. The top aerospace trends will be discussed on this week’s blog.

Industry 4.0: Transforming People, Processes, Technologies & Organizations

By Irene Petrick & Faith McCreary | Intel | 6/19/2019

Predictions about Industry 4.0 are everywhere. Autonomous machines will self-monitor and organize their own maintenance. Customized products will be built on highly flexible production floors that link to inventory systems, with just-in-time delivery of needed parts without human intervention. This week on the blog, Intel shares their insights into the organization changes needed for a successful Industry 4.0 transformation.

If you’ve ever watched professional racing, one of the first things you may notice is how closely the drivers follow one another. Running bumper to bumper is a strategic method known as drafting. It enables the driver to enter the leading car’s aerodynamic slipstream in an effort to reduce the drag force on the vehicle, using the distribution of air pressure to improve fuel efficiency. Can this racing technique apply to a motorist on the highway? Can drafting behind a big rig or semi-truck really improve a car’s fuel efficiency? This week on the blog, Jason Craanen and Nicolas Zagorksi of Altair, discuss how they tested out their theory from the safety of their computers using the company’s Virtual Wind Tunnel simulation tool to perform the experiment.

HR Technologies: Creating Time for Strategy

By Chuck Werner | Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center | 5/22/2019

One of the primary improvements provided by Industry 4.0 is the ability to free team members from mundane tasks, enabling them to think more strategically and be more flexible to the changing needs of the business. And what aspect of business has changed more drastically in recent years than HR? This week on the blog, Chuck Werner, of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, discusses how new technologies can shift your workforce focus from tasks to strategy.

Ask most manufacturers if they want to be efficient or effective and they will likely answer: Yes. It’s not an obtuse or vague answer. They want to be both. And the well-worn path to success as they know it comes by being efficient. Gordon Stannis of Twisthink joins us on the blog to talk about how a balanced approach to being innovative and efficient can make your company successful.

With annual sales nearing $6 billion, Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a supplier of flooring products and synthetic turf, wanted to implement Industrial Internet of Things-based, real-time factory floor analytics. Learn how Automation Alley Foundation Members Splunk Inc. helped them answer important business questions and gain insight on key metrics.

The full impact of Industry 4.0 remains to be seen and is rightly of concern to the state of Michigan and on a global level to 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), writes Tom Kelly, Automation Alley executive director and CEO. 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. We have the potential to be a leader in Industry 4.0 implementation, but only if government makes it a priority.

AR, VR and How the Gamification of Training Can Help Disadvantaged Populations

By Cynthia Hutchison | Automation Alley | 4/17/2019

"There are many dynamic technologies that will change your business, the biggest change might just be the gamification of training, taking a calculated risk on a new training method that uses augmented or virtual reality," writes Cynthia Hutchison, Automation Alley's senior director. This week on the blog, learn more about this exciting technology and how it can be a game-changed for those with barriers and challenges to employment.

The distilleries industry may be due for an update. And, a system developed by DornerWorks could soon provide the catalyst for industry 4.0 adoption, in brewing, distilling, and beyond. This is hardly a fad. The tradition upheld by brewers and distillers in the Great Lakes State is built on millennia of history.

Foresight is 2020

By Dan McKiernan | eFlex Systems | 4/3/2019

In the last few years, manufacturing professionals have seen a surge of interest in and adoption of new technology tools. As a result, an industry that has seen incremental change for decades now finds itself on the cusp of a profound change. What’s happening now is less about evolution than revolution: a foundational and industry-altering paradigm shift. There are several key pieces to this tech revolution. What makes this moment different than the past is the way in which all those pieces—the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), enhanced connectivity, big data and analytics—are coming together. This week on the blog, Dan McKiernan of eFlex Systems looks at each of those key elements, and then examines how they are working together to transform manufacturing.

Industry observers have recently noted that Elon Musk should follow in Apple’s iPhone footsteps and find another company to manufacture its cars. While focusing on a core competency of product design is admirable, the observers are wrong. This week on the blog, Pavan Muzumdar emphasizes difference in designing, engineering and manufacturing vehicles compared to the approach that can work for computers and phones.

Enabling your Smart Manufacturing Initiatives for Complex Products

By Scott Perdue | Configit Inc. | 2/20/2019

This week on the blog, Scott Perdue gives us a preview of Configit's upcoming Tech Takeover presentation at Automation Alley. Your IoT sensors are sending data back in real time, but you’re taking weeks to process and make decisions based on that data, so you’re not even close to fully leveraging your IoT implementation. As long as your data remains gridlocked, even the best smart manufacturing initiatives can’t optimize your systems or processes enough to drastically improve margins, says Perdue, president of Configit, provider of configuration technology for the manufacturing industry.

10 Necessary Steps to Becoming a Digital Leader

By Brent Yax | Awecomm Technologies LLC | 2/6/2019

This week on the blog, Brent Yax of Awecomm LLC explains how becoming a digital leader doesn’t have to be mysterious. It is simply understanding the role technology can play to help advance the business, and then taking the necessary steps to get the right buy-in for successful change. With the proper foundation in place any company can be the digital leader of tomorrow. Just stay focused and stay positive.

Accessible Websites are No Longer an Option—They’re Law

By David Linabury | Element5 Digital | 1/23/2019

This week on the blog, David Linabury from Element5 Digital, discusses the requirements and benefits of website accessibility for businesses. An accessible website is one that includes certain features that create a comparable experience for all visitors, particularly for those who may have challenges experiencing the web. Most people are not aware that using the web is not an apples to apples experience for everyone.

2019 marks a very special milestone for Automation Alley--we're turning 20! And we want to celebrate with you, our members and partners, throughout the year with new programming, event options and trade missions. Entering our 20th year, Automation Alley has officially come of age. Our positive economic impact can be felt more than ever, as we energize growth opportunities for member companies and our stakeholders, and serve as Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center.

As 2018 comes to an end, let's revisit some of our most popular blog posts in terms of page views and social media shares. Over the past 12 months, our contributors have made you think, and, hopefully, inspired you to take action.

7 Security Tips to Keep You and Your Information Protected

By Garrett Babinchak | InfoView Systems Inc. | 12/5/2018

Cybersecurity is something no one talks about unless some big breach is uncovered, like with the Equifax hack. With so much at stake, it's time we stop being reactive and start getting proactive about our privacy, says IT professional Garrett Babinchak of Infoview Systems. Businesses -- and individuals -- need to be vigilant and prevent cyber breaches before they ever occur. This week on the blog, he shares his security guidelines to help keep you and your information protected.

Think global. Leverage data. Be a lifetime learner. This week on the blog, we take a look back at the 8 most valuable takeaways from Automation Alley's global Industry 4.0 conference, Integr8.

Digitized production technologies are transforming business models and changing market structures. Concepts like Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things represent a paradigm shift in business and society, generated by a growing number of increasingly connected and automated devices, machines and products. This week on the blog, Fraunhofer USA discusses its Industry 4.0 initiatives as it approaches almost a quarter century in operation.

Two years ago, Automation Alley launched its Industry 4.0 Assessment initiative in an effort to help companies with corporate strategy and direction during their digital transformations. In that time, we’ve uncovered some insightful trends from the Michigan tech and manufacturing companies we’ve assessed. During our assessments, we ask pointed questions and present back to the company what we’ve uncovered. In essence, our assessment holds up a mirror to the company. As one company put it, we clean and polish the mirror, so they see their true self.

12 Questions to Consider Before Embarking on a Data Science Journey

By Christopher Dole | Soothsayer Analytics | 11/7/2018

As the advanced and connected technologies of Industry 4.0 make their way into our daily operations, companies should consider how the use of Data Science can help them explain the unknown, optimize their business and predict the future. In anticipation of Soothsayer’s Data Science panel discussion and presentation at Automation Alley’s Integr8 conference on Nov. 14, here are 12 questions to consider before embarking on a Data Science journey.

Get a Grip! Exploring Flexible and Collaborative Gripping Systems

By Anthony Leo | Soft Robotics | 10/31/2018

Anthony Leo, regional sales manager at Soft Robotics, likes to solve problems in new and innovative ways. This week on the blog, Anthony tells us how Soft Robotics is helping companies win new business with their advanced gripper systems.

Why Michigan’s next governor needs to make Industry 4.0 a priority

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 10/30/2018

As with any election year, there’s no shortage of topics vying for attention in Michigan -- and they are all important to the citizenry: roads and infrastructure, K-12 education, healthcare coverage and protection of the Great Lakes, just for starters. What’s not being talked about enough, though, is the seismic shift known as Industry 4.0 taking place in manufacturing - Michigan’s crown jewel of industry leadership.

Nobody wants to admit it, everyone tries to avoid it, and yet we’ll all succumb to it at some point: a business paralysis rooted in fear. And if you’re a seasoned manufacturing company, that fear may be linked to the transformative change driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). Kurt Dykema of Twisthink joins us on the blog to share three steps you can take to move your organization toward embracing IoT.

7 Things Your Boss Wants You to Know About Industry 4.0

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 10/10/2018

In Michigan, we have companies that excel in physical technologies such as manufacturing, logistics and agriculture. This entire ecosystem, which is the economic backbone of Michigan, is facing Industry 4.0 head on. This week on the blog, Pavan Muzumdar, Automation Alley’s chief operating officer, explains the seven things your boss wants you to know about Industry 4.0.

How Industry 4.0 Can Benefit Your Business

By Simon Weallans | Brightly | 9/12/2018

Businesses that adopt Industry 4.0 can stay ahead of the curve while increasing efficiency, streamlining processes and bolstering the bottom line, says Simon Weallans, Brightly’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Cloud Migration Key Decisions: Public vs. Private

By Jonathan Kempfe | RSM | 8/1/2018

The decision-making process for managers is not as simple as cloud vs. no cloud. Once an organization is sold on pursuing the benefits of a cloud solution, there are countless factors it must consider in order to incorporate the new platform effectively into its infrastructure. This week on the blog, the experts at RSM discuss public vs. private cloud solutions for business, one of the earliest and most influential decisions to be made when considering cloud migration.

The Impact of artificial intelligence on health care

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 7/25/2018

In the Detroit News, Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley director of international business services and Industry 4.0 strategic partnerships, shares his thoughts on the impact AI and big data are having on the health care industry. "From blockchain technology to surgical robots, medical experts worldwide agree that big data and artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role in vastly improving health care quality and delivery. Aided by advances in sensor capabilities, computational power and algorithmic ingenuity, the pace of medical innovation is accelerating rapidly."

Making a Sustainable Difference in Manufacturing

By Kylee Guenther | Spectalite | 6/13/2018

While plastics have given us a lot—everything from lifesaving medical devices to twisty straws for our summer ice tea—these magical materials present a big problem: There’s really no good solution for what to do with them, after we’re done using the product. To make matters worse, the life expectancy of the average plastic product is less than a year, meaning so many of these items are used once and tossed away. Enter Spectalite, a Michigan-based, women-owned, advanced engineering and materials manufacturer, specializing in bamboo fiber composite plastics. This week on the blog, Spectalite CEO Kylee Guenther discusses how her company is making a difference by helping customers find new and sustainable materials for their products while helping reduce plastic waste.

Case Study: How Embracing Digitization Can Transform Your Business

By Eric Davis | Automation Alley | 6/6/2018

For manufacturers today, technological change is coming faster than expected. But for some companies, customer demand for digitization has already reshaped their industry. This has been the case for New York-based reprographics firm A. Esteban & Company. Read about how the company has learned, pivoted and grown to improve profitability and competitiveness.

A Case Study in the Cutting Edge

By Tony Pinho | Duggan Manufacturing | 5/23/2018

Strategic equipment investment is a critical part of staying competitive. Planning a procurement path that will keep your business relevant in an ever-changing landscape can be difficult in the best of times and a truly herculean task during periods of rapid market change like we’re seeing today. In times such as these, even the best laid plans may need to be overhauled. Do you take a chance on a new technology that's heavy on potential, but light on real-world evidence, or stay the course with your current equipment and risk falling behind?

While manufacturing today still involves a number of traditional operations, digital technologies are rapidly becoming more deeply integrated into the manufacturing process. Once limited to the four walls of the manufacturing plant, companies are increasingly susceptible to outside variables.

We humans are more driven when we understand the value of what we are pursuing. In order to walk through this delivery guide, it is critical to understand the value of Industry 4.0. So, let's rehash the "why" for Industry 4.0.

With the new scenarios created by the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 movements, there is a radical change happening in manufacturing: software. The software component is becoming a core part of products being manufactured and is influencing the adoption of industrialized methodologies and tools for software development. Manufacturers are integrating these methodologies into their businesses to keep up with this shift in scenarios.

Understanding the Obstacles to Automation

By John Bedz | Automation Alley | 2/28/2018

Robotics systems are cheaper and more versatile than ever. Companies automating are seeing an ROI faster than ever. Robots make your shop floor safer and remove tedious tasks from your employees. In fact, we’ve heard the stories about how initially employees have reservations about working with robots. Soon after installation, though, they begin to ask 'what else can the robot help me with?' Employees happy, bosses happy, vendors happy and efficiency, project flow and profits all trending in the right direction. So, what am I missing when I see that not every company jumps in on robotics?" writes John Bedz, Automation Alley's program manager of entrepreneurship and defense. Understanding the obstacles to automation is the first step in helping companies considering this next move.

3D Printing Evolves to a Modern Manufacturing Solution

By David Baumgarten | Novastar Solutions | 2/21/2018

In its 30-plus year history, 3D printing hasn’t offered the scalability, repeatability, or economics (comparable cost per part) to be thought of as a sustainable manufacturing solution. But recent advancements in the 3D Printing industry make the case the technology is en route to disrupting manufacturing as we know it, says David Baumgarten, Founder and President of Novastar Solutions. Speed and design freedom are just two of the most important 3D printing differentiators when compared to legacy manufacturing.

Thinking Beyond Compliance: Data Asset Security for Your Business

By Waleed Haddad and Jennifer Hudgins | Access-Interactive | 1/24/2018

Just because you are compliant does not mean you are secure. This critical message is not just for the Information Security community, but for all players in the larger business community. Information Security is a balancing act that requires full time attention, resources, and continuous progression. There are number of governing bodies such as GLBA and HIPAA that barely scratch the surface of necessary technical controls required to ensure more secure environments.

Traffic to Automation Alley’s blog jumped by nearly 50 percent over the course of the last year, due in large part to some fantastic guest bloggers who have shared their insights into the world of tech and manufacturing. We’re thrilled to know our content is reaching you in the blogosphere and is being enjoyed by more business professionals than ever! This week, we’re looking back at our top 10 most popular posts of 2017.

In case you missed it, Automation Alley Executive Director and CEO Tom Kelly had some very interesting and thought-provoking conversations about the future of technology and manufacturing on Automation Alley's podcast, Factory Reboot, this year. The podcast, which is focused on technology’s role in manufacturing and the Industry 4.0 transformation, featured gusts from the robotics, virtual reality, IIoT and cybersecurity fields, and explored the opportunities and challenges manufacturers face as they rethink, retool and rebuild the way they do business in the smart and connected world.

More than 500 professionals from the technology and manufacturing worlds converged on Detroit, Nov. 9 for a day of deep Industry 4.0 learning at Automation Alley’s first-ever Integr8™ conference and expo. From smart machines that think and perceive to immersive technologies that can train our future workforce, this global event not only put the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan in the spotlight as a key player in the Industry 4.0 space, but it also taught us several valuable lessons about where advanced manufacturing is headed.

If you still have doubts in making investments in Virtual Reality Training (VRT) because it seems too expensive, this blog post will help to remove many of your concerns. VRT solutions can actually be a source of great savings and are well-suited for almost any industry, explains Franco Bevione, CEO of WEDOO. Discover how the right mix of classroom training plus VRT can deliver the optimal solution in creating the best-trained people possible.

The Next Revolution in Michigan Manufacturing

By U.S. Senator Gary Peters | 11/1/2017

This week’s guest blogger is U.S. Senator Gary Peters, advocate for Michigan playing a central role in next generation self-driving vehicles and creator of a bipartisan bill that’s taking important steps to help bring self-driving vehicles to our roads. “We need to create updated standards to ensure these ground-breaking systems are operating safely and securely,” Peters says.

Fog Computing: A New Paradigm for the Industrial IoT

By Morris Novello | Nebbiolo Technologies Inc. | 10/25/2017

We’ve all heard of cloud computing, but is the cloud right for every business? In this blog post, Morris Novello, senior director of marketing at Nebbiolo Technologies Inc., explores the many opportunities and applications of fog computing, from connected vehicles and smart grids to Industry 4.0 manufacturing and smart cities. Learn about how fog technology can be a unifying platform, rich enough to deliver this new breed of emerging services while enabling the development of new applications.

Four Steps to Industry 4.0 Excellence

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 10/4/2017

While it's impossible to know where exactly Industry 4.0 will lead us, businesses must prepare for the rapid technology advancements taking place around them in order to stay relevant. This week on the blog, we discuss four steps all businesses need to internalize and organize around to manage changes as they navigate the complexities of Industry 4.0.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived. What's your integration strategy? Discover how smart technologies are transforming the manufacturing landscape at Integr8™, Automation Alley's global Industry 4.0 conference, Nov. 9 in Detroit. Here are eight reasons you can't miss this new, one-of-a-kind event.

With nearly 1,000 Manufacturing Day (MFG DAY) events taking place across the nation on Friday, Oct. 6, Automation Alley would like to highlight those happening in our own backyard — specifically, the events being hosted by our member organizations.

Cyberattack. Are you prepared?

By Molly E. Green | Marsh & McLennan Agency | 8/23/2017

The threat of a cyberattack is no longer a case of if it will happen, but when it will happen. How can you protect your organization?

IIoT: Manufacturing at the Speed of Change

By Elliot Forsyth | Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center | 8/16/2017

The digitalization of business across all industries is happening rapidly, and there is no going back. Imagine knowing when a machine is about to fail before it actually occurs. Or what if it were possible to monitor a customer’s product performance in real time to service it more quickly and efficiently?

If you think your company is unaffected by Industry 4.0, think again!

By Cynthia Hutchison | Automation Alley | 8/9/2017

In the digital age, the lines are blurred between what is and isn't considered a technology company. The argument can most certainly be made that all businesses today are tech companies. In this blog post, Cynthia Hutchison, Automation Alley's director of Business Development and Government Affairs, offers up advice traditional businesses should consider on their quest to embrace new technologies.

The future of manufacturing is here for the taking in Michigan

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 8/2/2017

It’s not just cars anymore. The state needs to capitalize on its knowhow and adapt for Industry 4.0. In this Op-Ed, Automation Alley Executive Director and CEO Tom Kelly argues that Michigan has an opportunity to lead the nation in the implementation of Industry 4.0 on our factory floors. One of the advantages Michigan has is a rich supply chain of traditional manufacturers all the way from smaller suppliers to tier 1s and OEMs, a great environment for Industry 4.0 technologies to be vetted.

Comcast Newsmakers host Laurel Hess chats with Automation Alley COO Pavan Muzumdar about how Industry 4.0 is changing manufacturing and Automation Alley's role in helping Michigan companies transform.

Tom Kelly, Automation Alley's executive director, chats with WJR's Paul W. Smith about the tremendous opportunity Industry 4.0 technology has created for manufacturers in Michigan. Discover why our state has a competitive advantage when it comes to smart factory automation and learn more about Automation Alley's global Industry 4.0 conference, Integr8™, taking place this fall in Detroit.

In today’s world, technology transforms every part of our lives, and autonomous cars are no different. While self-driving cars may still seem like science fiction to many, they are set to rule the transportation sector in the not-so-distant future. Cars that can navigate without human input will be used by the U.S. government for public transport and industrial fleets by 2025, according to the latest reports. Experts believe autonomous cars will decrease road accidents, improve fuel efficiency and lessen traffic jams, among other benefits. To explain this and other important concepts of self-driving cars, check out this Get Off Road infographic on the growth of the autonomous car market.

Manufacturing automation and jobs are a hot topic politically, especially here in Michigan. Brooke Allen of WKAR’s Morning Edition caught up with Automation Alley Executive Director Tom Kelly during his time at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference to discuss how technology is transforming our lives and how Automation Alley is helping companies navigate to Industry 4.0. He explains why automation is our path forward to job creation, and where we will be in 2020.

The day we infected ourselves with Ransomware

By Godfrey Nolan | RIIS LLC | 5/10/2017

This week on the blog, Godfrey Nolan, president of RIIS LLC, explains why his company infected its old computers with ransomware. As odd as it sounds, he says, there’s no better learning tool for how to stop a cyberattack than having to save a computer nobody wants. “If your first encounter with ransomware is during an attack, then it’s probably going to be too late and you may as well admit defeat.”

Manufacturers: Make Data Work for You Now

By Alexi Antonino | Plex Systems | 5/3/2017

While Industry 4.0 will continue as a long-term vision for the future, it’s important for all manufacturers to recognize that opportunities to leverage data are here now. This week on the blog, Alexi Antonino of Plex Systems discusses what it’s like working as a technologist in a rather extraordinary time in tech and manufacturing. “I’m most interested in how we take the incredible spectrum of data that comes from these new platforms and leverage it for practical business tools today.”

Supporting American manufacturing innovation has never been more important than it is right now. As our world and our factories become increasingly digitized and connected, our country, and particularly our state, has the opportunity to lead the fourth industrial revolution of smart manufacturing known as Industry 4.0. But for small and medium-sized manufacturers, navigating these advancements in technology can’t be done alone. Organizations like Automation Alley and MMTC will play a critical role in this transformation, says Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s Executive Director. Help us take a stand to support manufacturing.

Get ready for the next industrial revolution

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 3/22/2017

Manufacturing is at the forefront of the national conversation once again. But what most politicians aren’t discussing is that the manufacturing industry is undergoing a transformation, says Automation Alley Executive Director Tom Kelly. Are you ready for Industry 4.0?

Working through barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 2/15/2017

This week, Automation Alley released its 2017 Technology Industry Report, highlighting that the manufacturing industry is moving rapidly to embrace Industry 4.0 technology as a critical part of its processes and plans to make new technological investments in 2017. Despite these findings, the report also found that there are many barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption.

Gearing up for Cybersecurity

By Bill Rosin and Brian Balow | Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC | 1/18/2017

In 2015, nearly 30 percent of all cyberattacks in the manufacturing sector occurred in the automotive industry. Today, the industry finds itself at a crossroads, as larger numbers of connected and autonomous vehicles begin to reach the broader consumer marketplace. This week on the blog, Bill Rosin and Brian Balow of Mich.-based Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC, a law firm providing legal counsel to clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to other publicly and privately owned businesses, discuss why cybersecurity and the public perception of vehicle safety and brand strength are more important than ever.

We're closing out 2016 with a look back on our top five most popular blog posts of the year.

As we near the end of 2016, we invite you to take a look back at some of the moments we were most proud of as an organization this year.

How Industry 4.0 Will Help Your Company Make the World a Better Place

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 11/30/2016

There’s always been a tension between technology and manual labor. With the rise of the fourth industrial revolution, many people fear advancements in automated technologies, artificial intelligence and smart robotics because they may one day make many human jobs obsolete. This week on the blog, Automation Alley COO Pavan Muzumdar weighs in on why we shouldn’t fear technology, and how “conscious capitalism” presents an opportunity for our society to change the world for the better.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters paid a visit to Automation Alley on Monday to discuss the future of mobility in Michigan, our opportunity to be a global leader in the development of autonomous vehicles, and the challenges we face with stiff national and international competition.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson, editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor, takes a closer look at Automation Alley, the progress we have made as an organization since our founding nearly 20 years ago, and how the recent boom in autonomous technology has affected our long-term strategy. 

How virtual reality is leveraging technology to drive business

By Jason Vazzano | Vectorform | 9/21/2016

Business transformation and innovation are key to remaining competitive in the global marketplace. Recent research shows almost half of all CEOs expect their organizations will be significantly transformed by 2020. That’s why companies wanting to succeed need to embrace and implement both disruptive thinking and disruptive technology not only when developing new products and services, but also when transforming their business processes. By doing this, they can increase their agility, as well as drive rapid and cost-effective innovation and growth.

Industry 4.0: Michigan poised to usher in new era of manufacturing

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 8/24/2016

Around the world, Michigan is known as a state that makes things. And the way we make things is about to undergo a massive shift – so massive, in fact, that experts are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. Automation Alley’s new executive director, Tom Kelly, discusses Michigan’s opportunity to lead the nation as early adopters of factory automation technology and as the launching point for Industry 4.0 in America.

We know that manufacturers across the country are struggling to find the skilled talent they need to remain competitive. Yet, according to Automation Alley partner Tooling U-SME, 75 percent of those companies say they don’t offer a structured training program on manufacturing skills. 

School may be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean your tiny geniuses have to stop learning! Here are six ways to keep kids of all ages engaged in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) this summer. 

The race is on to lead the next revolution in transportation

By ​Eric Shreffler | MEDC | 6/15/2016

Eric Shreffler, managing director for the Automotive Office at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, discusses plans for the American Center for Mobility, based at Willow Run airport, and how the center aims to lead the way in the development of the vehicles of tomorrow.  

How to protect yourself from hackers

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 6/8/2016

Today, nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives depends on a secure and stable cyberspace. Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley director of International Business Services, shares tips for how you can take charge of defending yourself from prying eyes.

Industrial Cyber Security: What Every Manufacturer Needs To Know

By Scott Phillips | The SearchLite | 6/1/2016

When it comes to manufacturing or process automation, very few people are asking about industrial cyber security. Could it be that many don’t know what to ask?

How virtual reality can transform every business

By Vinh Chu | PIXO Group | 5/18/2016

Virtual reality is entering the marketplace at a rapid pace, with technological improvements driving down cost and increasing quality. The barricades to entering VR are not as monumentally expensive or difficult as one might think. 

Southeast Michigan: The best place to grow your tech career

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 2/24/2016

A situation at Yelp this week has shined a national spotlight on the cost of living disparity across America’s major technology hubs, and it highlights the hardships faced by many employees who are struggling to make ends meet while working and living in the country’s most expensive cities. According to Automation Alley’s 2016 Technology Industry Report, there is one major U.S. city where the technology industry is thriving, and its employees can enjoy a high standard of living: Detroit. 

The Key Ingredients for Marketing Success

By Kevin Krason | Biznet Digital | 12/9/2015

Kevin Krason, founder of Southfield-based digital marketing agency Biznet, discusses how to be a responsible business leader and marketer in the ever-evolving, fast-paced digital age. 

Five characteristics of winning innovators

By Lisa Vallee-Smith | Airfoil Group | 11/18/2015

Innovation is an equal-opportunity phenomenon. The public and the media tend to restrict the term “innovative companies” to startups from Silicon Valley and the Northwest, but business leaders in Seattle aren’t the only ones who go sleepless developing great ideas into great brands. 

Robots: The Destruction and Restoration of the American Imagination

By Addie Langford | TechShop Detroit | 10/7/2015

One of my favorite stories told by my father was the only time he recalls seeing his mother in the buff. She flew from the bath at the sight of my father, then seven, who had carved a deep gouge in his neck while shredding her rubber galoshes to craft a slingshot. This toy/weapon would accompany the motorized go-cart, the handmade printing press, an elaborate treehouse, and a basement full of eviscerated toasters and wiring. 

​Sisters Code: Empowering Women to Explore Technology

By Marlin Page | Sisters Code | 8/19/2015

Marlin Page is the founder of Sisters Code, a global social enterprise with a mission to educate, empower, and entice women ages 25 – 85 to explore the world of coding and technology. Here she talks about why she started Sisters Code, what goes on at the “Weekend Website Warrior Experience,” and how Sister's Code gives back to the community.    

Can we 3D print talent?

By David Darbyshire | DASI Solutions | 6/24/2015

David Darbyshire, engineer and co-owner of DASI Solutions, discusses the technical skill, knowledge and methods necessary to successfully integrate and operate 3D printers for business.

10 Things We Learned from #hack4detroit

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 6/17/2015

A wrap up of our hackathon experience. 
 

​Balancing the art of being both high and low tech

By Andy Harrison | Utley Brothers Printing | 6/10/2015

Learn how one local company, Utley Brothers Printing, melds high-tech forms of printing with the nearly lost art of letterpress printing under one roof. 

Empowering Detroit’s civic tech community

By Beth Niblock | City of Detroit | 6/3/2015

Beth Niblock, CIO for the City of Detroit and #hack4detroit judge, discusses how civic hacking can lead to the development of community-changing ideas.

​The Smart-er Factory

By Debbie Holton | SME | 5/27/2015

As vehicles become increasingly more connected and electronic, manufacturers are facing significant challenges and opportunities as they try to meet customer demand for more capabilities. SME's Debbie Holton discusses this big data challenge, both on the road and in the factory. 

5 Reasons to #hack4detroit

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 5/5/2015

Back by popular demand, Automation Alley is inviting the region’s brightest and best computer programmers and coders to compete in a 24-hour #hack4detroit event in downtown Detroit! If you’re a coder, here are five reasons why you should participate:

Kelly Kozlowski, Automation Alley's senior director, discusses how mentoring a local FIRST Robotics team of high school students has opened her eyes to the  endless opportunities for young women in STEM fields. 

​Miss the Technology Industry Outlook? We’ve Got You Covered.

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 2/18/2015

Were you unable to attend Automation Alley’s Technology Industry Outlook last week? Not to worry! View video and the full report here.

Automation Alley to host Technology Industry Outlook, Feb. 12

By Ken Rogers | Automation Alley | 2/11/2015

On the eve of our Technology Industry Outlook event, Ken Rogers, Automation Alley's executive director, shares his thoughts on the state of Southeast Michigan's technology economy. 

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