Major federal legislation coupled with recent industrial trends point to the potential for a resurgence of growth in the United States’ manufacturing sector. In particular, this growth centers on those embracing smart technology, or what has become known as Industry 4.0.
The decade leading up to the COVID-19 crisis (2010-2019) saw 1.3 million manufacturing jobs added to the economy following the loss of 5.8 million jobs over the previous ten years. The country’s share of global manufacturing GDP, output, and exports also stabilized.
Where is the investment coming from?
Accelerating that upturn could have transformative economic and social effects while improving the resilience of the wider economy, which is why large designations of federal funding are being concentrated on this sector. The combination of the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have led to grants created specifically for the development of automation and smart technology in the manufacturing industry.
Analysis by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that ‘restoring growth and competitiveness in key manufacturing industries could boost US GDP by more than 15 percent over the rest of the current decade’.
In August, President Biden signed the $280 billion industrial policy bill known as the Chips Act which includes a provision for $200 billion to new manufacturing initiatives and research in areas like AI, robotics, quantum computing, and more. According to Forbes ‘This is a very good thing. Technology will continue to be the key driver in building a U.S. manufacturing ecosystem that can withstand the ups and downs of the market. We are already facing a major shortage of advanced manufacturing talent, and as our capabilities expand, it’s vital we stand up opportunities to train a manufacturing workforce that’s ready to build a new future.’
With investment going into industry, there will be a combination of innovation and training coming from academic settings in conjunction with practical vocation education coming from the leading national manufacturers. In all areas of the manufacturing industry, many American companies are making investments to create a future more invulnerable to supply chain disruption and ready for modern, scalable productivity.
With lessons learned from COVID era supply chain woes and the employment concerns raised by a skills gap; the manufacturing industry is on course to diversify its production and its productivity models. While the government, and to some extent the public, marches towards greener roads, populated with electric vehicles, American car firms are investing in EV and battery manufacturing hubs. Other companies have taken advantage of this trend and are hoping to carve out space in a burgeoning civic charging market. Quoted in a The Guardian article, Dale Hall, a senior researcher who focuses on EVs at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), stated that ‘the private sector, which is behind much of the charging infrastructure, is moving ahead with clear signals of support from the public sector. Stronger local policies or cutting-edge technology will only help dictate the speed of that transition’.
Where is the funding going?
Michigan, the historic center for manufacturing in the US, has recently been strategically creating funding resources for industry 4.0 development. In September, forty-nine small manufacturers around the state were awarded $1.15 million to help them adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. Previously, in July, 23 companies were awarded a total of more than $500,000 in grants through the first round of funding, making a total of 72 companies receiving $1.67 million to date through the Industry 4.0 technology implementation grant. This grant is part of a slew of strategic financial incentives to attract talent and help Michigan remain competitive in the face of a rise in EV development activity from southwestern states.
Earlier this year, Iowa’s Economic Development Authority announced $22 million in Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce Innovation grants for 46 companies in the state. In addition, $1.9 million was awarded in Technology Investment grants, for companies looking to utilize smart technology integration in their production facilities.
The Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program is awarding over $2 million to 13 manufacturers across the Commonwealth to help prepare the businesses to meet the demands of Industry 4.0. A reported on Plasticbusinesmag.com ‘The administration also awarded Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative grants, to spur innovation, to three companies in the state that produce “smart textiles,” tech-integrated apparel and wearable technology.
The flow of resources will give access to both the current US workforce to redefine their skill set, as well as allow state of the art training for High School students and graduates. Setting up people with stable and interesting employment.
Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania state governments have all announced funding this year to support new programs that develop I4.0 skills, providing training and credentials for High School and College students.
With more than 30 years of experience, Amatrol remains the world’s leader in skills-based interactive technical learning that uniquely combines hands-on industrial training equipment with comprehensive, highly-interactive multimedia curriculum. Amatrol has leveraged that experience to lead the way in developing advanced Industry 4.0 training programs for both industry and education.
For example, Amatrol’s Smart Factory training system is an eight-station, fully-connected manufacturing system that connects physical systems, operational information, and human assets to control a variety of actions, including manufacturing, maintenance, inventory, and supply chain operators. Click below to see Amatrol’s Smart Factory in action:
The Smart Factory training system utilizes an industrial FANUC robot, software for smart factory communications, Allen-Bradley or Siemens PLCs, a variety of smart sensors, and an additional cart for Ethernet, Wireless Communication, and Network Security training components.
For those who want smart factory training on a smaller scale, Amatrol offers a Tabletop Smart Factory Mechatronics system. This five station system includes a variety of smart sensors for product identification (RFID, barcode, photoelectric, pressure, etc.), components for network communications, and software for smart factory manufacturing execution and visual communications. Click below to learn more about Amatrol’s Tabletop Smart Factory Mechatronics system:
Amatrol’s Industry 4.0 Fundamentals (I4F) program also provides a two-year path to industrial competencies in areas like PLC troubleshooting, mechatronics, and data analytics, as well as learning to program and operate a FANUC robot. The I4F program will also prepare students to obtain industry-recognized Industry 4.0 certifications from the Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA).
If you’re ready to take your training to the next level, consult with an expert at Amatrol today to learn how you can take the first step toward teaching the skills that will set students up for success in the future.