Partners launch Industry 4.0 program for West Michigan manufacturers

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An employee uses Industry 4.0 technology at Bucher Hydraulics in Grand Rapids. Courtesy The Right Place

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center – West (The Center-West), Feyen Zylstra and DISHER recently announced the formation of a new Preferred Smart Manufacturing Partnership program for West Michigan manufacturers.

The program, announced Tuesday by The Right Place economic development agency, is designed to guide manufacturers through creating sustainable change as they learn about and implement Industry 4.0 technology in their business.

“In the future, West Michigan companies will need to be stronger, even more globally relevant/competitive and profitable,” The Right Place said. “Simultaneously, manufacturers must address workforce shortages, talent skill gaps and the image problem that has long driven capable individuals away from a career in manufacturing.”

The Preferred Smart Manufacturing Partnership program is built on a systematic approach that acknowledges a manufacturer’s current state, desired future state and the steps needed to bridge the gap. The program builds on each organization’s strengths in manufacturing operational excellence, engineering know-how and advanced manufacturing technology integration.

“While Industry 4.0 and (the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT) are widely accepted concepts on the plant floor, many manufacturers have yet to understand and harness the benefits and competitive advantage that they provide,” said Ryan Cahalane, president of industrial technology at Feyen Zylstra. “By partnering with the Right Place and The Center-West on the Preferred Smart Manufacturing Partner Program, we’ve accelerated access to digital transformation and smart manufacturing technologies for manufacturers across West Michigan.”

The partnership will provide a systemwide approach to improvement and adoption of proven manufacturing principles and implementation of the correct Industry 4.0 technologies to advance a company’s vision, the partners said. They added the program also will deliver transformation as a service that allows manufacturers to become more efficient and better able to respond to increasing international competition.

“DISHER has had the privilege of coming alongside numerous clients of The Center-West on a variety of projects over the years, and we’re looking forward to acting as a smart manufacturing partner where we can leverage our Industry 4.0 engineering experience and industry partnerships,” said Kevin Pinner, business lead at DISHER. “Given West Michigan’s strong manufacturing presence, there is great potential for productivity and quality gains with smaller to midsized companies through applying facets of Industry 4.0 to their operations.”

By engaging The Center-West and the Preferred Smart Manufacturing Partners and using the free Industry 4.0 Assessment, the group said a manufacturer will be able to:

  • Understand their current state
  • Understand the steps needed to sustainably introduce Industry 4.0 technologies to their best benefit
  • See a potential return on investment the change can provide
  • Develop a timeline for implementation of the best-served technologies for their business
  • Have the services of the implementation team guide their transformation into a better, more competitive business

Those interested in learning more about the Preferred Smart Manufacturing Partnership program can visit thecenterwest.org, email thecenter@rightplace.org or call (616) 301-6247.

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