June Update

By Mark Chalfant on May 26, 2016

Next Generation Technologies

The national MEP system was, in part, created to help transfer technology from federal labs to smaller manufacturers.  Today it continues to serve as a link between manufacturers and the technology opportunities and solutions they require to be globally competitive.  The need to tie the two groups together remains, and it also remains a top priority for MAMTC.

At MAMTC, we are constantly visiting with manufacturers about a variety of topics that relate to their growth, or more specifically, how can they grow faster?  Sometimes the answer is, “We need more people”, or “We’re thinking about investing in a new machine that will increase our capacity”.  Increasingly, the conversations with CEOs and presidents evolve into a discussion about new technologies that might cause a disruption in their industry.  In working with companies on their Innovation strategies, I usually make a comment along the lines of, “The world is changing.  The question is whether it will be done BY you, or TO you.”

When I talk about Next Generation Technologies, I think it’s important to put a bit of context to it.  There are a number of exciting new subjects, topics and areas of focus that are considered Next Generation but I don’t think it should be limited to only a handful of topics.  Wikipedia defines this inclusive nature as:

Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is a collective term embracing a number of contemporary automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. It had been defined as 'a collective term for technologies and concepts of value chain organization' which draws together Cyber-Physical Systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services.

 

A recent study by SME surveyed more than 800 manufacturing professionals representing a wide variety of business sectors and titles.  Of those surveyed, 87% believe smart manufacturing similar to that described above will result in significant changes within the next five years. (SME, Spring 2016)

A couple of specific topics that MAMTC and NIST MEP are investigating more fully and completely are identified in a blog post entitled Five Technological Applications Impacting Manufacturing Innovation.  The real question I want to ask you as a manufacturer is what does next generation technology mean to you and your company?  More importantly, is this an area of focus or interest for you to acknowledge?  And don’t think that while a technology might not currently be in your business sector, one of your competitors is almost assuredly looking to integrate it into their service offerings.

MAMTC wants to work with Kansas manufacturers to help foster innovation and growth through technology enhancement.  In this way the manufacturers across the state can better develop new products or enhance existing products, expand and diversify markets, develop and improve production and engineering processes, enhance value within their supply chains, all in an effort to grow their respective business and to bolster their manufacturing ecosystems.