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Industry 4.0

Why a National Industry 4.0 Policy Is Critical to Keeping U.S. Manufacturing Competitive

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 trying 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.

The value of Industry 4.0

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, and agile, and they 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 percent 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).

Around the globe

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

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

Society 5.0, proposed as a future society to which Japan should aspire, 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 cyber and physical space.

Here at home

Michigan, through Automation Alley and in partnership with the World Economic Forum, is well positioned to lead the United States 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, which means 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 supports a national Industry 4.0 policy. Other countries have made it a 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.

Tom Kelly, Executive Director and CEO, Automation Alley

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