An annual survey of Hoosier manufacturers finds some are shifting focus from workforce development to upgrading automation. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Samantha Horton reports, it shows digital manufacturing has arrived in the Hoosier state.
The Indiana Manufacturers Survey found workforce development is not the top concern for some manufacturers. Instead, many are looking to improve facilities, equipment and technology.
Survey co-author Mark Frohlich says these responses show the next manufacturing revolution has hit Indiana.
“Our perception in the data of this year’s study is, I think, many companies are finally beginning to take that step and plunge ahead,” says Frohlich.
Industry 1.0 introduced the use of steam and water power to replace animal and human power. Then Industry 2.0 brought the early assembly lines and use of electricity. In the 1970s and 1980s Industry 3.0 came where automation first began to be seen.
“I remember those days as a manager, sometimes a sizable percentage of your workforce would have lost their job back then because you were automating something,” says Frohlich.
However, he doesn’t see jobs disappearing in manufacturing with the new technology from Industry 4.0.
“What’s going on now is not a replacing of humans with automation it’s a need to upskill,” says Frohlich. “So today, I think a lot of Industry 4.0 – the fourth revolution – where products are digitally designed and then incredible automation produces them spell a lot of opportunities for workers.”
Frohlich says, as larger companies update technology, smaller manufacturers – who supply them – will need to reach to keep up.
“When your major customers are moving forward into Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing, you’re almost forced to move in too,” he says.
The survey has been given annually for 12 years.