SPONSORED: As Michigan’s small manufacturers struggle to fill talent gaps, increase production efficiency and improve quality, many are looking to automation.
While interest in robots, cobots and other Industry 4.0 technologies is skyrocketing, many small and middle-market manufacturers are asking themselves: Where do we start? What makes sense for our factory? What’s the total cost to deploy automation?
The Automation Landscape
Download the presentation (PDF) here.
VIDEO: Replay the webinar here.
Experts from the MMTC-West, MiBiz and Zeeland-based consulting firm Disher got together recently for a 50-minute webinar on the topic. The wide-ranging discussion, which drew more than 210 registrants from the local manufacturing sector, featured an overview of the landscape for automation in Western Michigan.
Joe Dyer, team lead for Disher's manufacturing tech service area offered a healthy dose of practical advice and real-world strategies for small companies moving to adopt automationtion.
The webinar also included the preliminary results of an MiBiz survey on local sentiment regarding automation, including the drivers behind local manufacturers' move to automation as well as their plans, concerns and where they get their information.
"There is an ocean of information being written, discussed and sold these days about how you are going to be able use the Industrial Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robots, CoBots, Big Data, the cloud and an endless stream of technology to solve your capacity, talent, quality and other challenges." said Justine Burdette, vice president of technical services and regional director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West.
Even with all that information, Burdette said, the MMTC-West is hearing one question a lot these days: “That’s great. But where do I start?”
"For most companies, the answer to that question is to leverage the processes and talents that they already have in place to create a culture of learning around automation," said Brian Edwards, publisher of MiBiz. "The webinar really digs into how companies can engage employees and tap external resources, while always keeping their eye on the real goals.
"Automation isn't the goal. Productivity, efficiency, quality, safety and profitability are the goals. Automation is just a tool for them to get there," he said.