Tech is Growing Fast in Manufacturing

Tech is Growing Fast in Manufacturing

More and more Hoosier manufacturing operations are going all in on new tech, a clear sign that Industry 4.0 is really taking off in Indiana. Over the last few years, the need to become more efficient and proficient has become more apparent than ever for companies that make things. New funding pathways and innovations in technology have enabled many Hoosier firms to dynamically change the way they do business.

Over the last few months, new data has shown us the rates of new technology adoption among Indiana manufacturers. Plus, thanks to info from the Indiana Manufacturing Readiness Grant Program, we now have several snapshots of the kinds of things that companies are purchasing and adding to their operations.

 

Adoption is Growing

Tech adoption is the term used to describe the rates of companies that have added advanced technology to their manufacturing methods. This would include things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensors, and 3D printing.

Conexus Indiana, the state’s manufacturing and logistics initiative, published data in a benchmarking report that found Indiana’s rates of tech adoption are quickening. They surveyed about 140 companies, large and small, and found that:

  • 43% of Indiana advanced manufacturers have successfully implemented or piloted an Industry 4.0 technology, more than double the figure from 2020.
  • Both large and small companies are reporting rapid adoption of:
    • 3D printing (from 24% in 2020 to 39% in 2021),
    • Collaborative robots (from 6% in 2020 to 22% in 2021), and
    • Machine vision (31% in 2021).

Regarding the numbers, Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers said, “Hoosier businesses continue to invest in smart technologies like cobots, machine vision, and 3D printing to increase competitiveness, productivity, and profitability. We’re on the cutting edge of a digital transformation, and our state’s advanced manufacturers and logistics companies are accelerating.”

Governor Eric Holcomb said, “Hoosier manufacturers are preparing now for the industries of tomorrow. These forward-thinking companies are modernizing their operations to set themselves up for a successful future, creating high-skill, high-wage jobs for Hoosiers in all parts of the state.”

 

A Look at the Spending

The state of Indiana has dispensed millions of dollars to manufacturers through the Readiness Grant program, which are then matched or in most cases exceeded by the companies’ own investments. The program has been able to achieve roughly seven-fold investment levels through its support. At one point, about $9.7 million in grants from the state had stimulated more than $68.6 million in capital investments.

Those numbers have likely only grown since then. Currently, the Readiness Grant program has been extended to 2023, backed by a $20 million budget appropriated by the Indiana General Assembly.

“We continue to be impressed with the applications that demonstrate more and more Indiana manufacturers are embracing and implementing smart technologies to succeed in an increasingly tech-focused environment,” said Mitch Landess, vice president of innovation and digital transformation at Conexus Indiana.

 

What are Companies Buying?

Data about the grants is very fun to look at because it contains snapshots of how companies are using the money. It’s amazing what Indiana manufacturers have been using – some of it sounds like it comes from the future.

Here are a few interesting examples:

  • Addman Engineering in Hamilton County is adding tech called a “Velo3D Sapphire laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing machine” for production of parts.
  • Amatrol in Clark County is implementing an automated production system into its plant-wide systems, including autonomous mobile robots, IoT sensors, cloud analytics, mobile monitoring, and digital thread elements.
  • Bruce Fox Inc. in Floyd County, a company that’s been in business for over 80 years, purchased new printing equipment, 3D scanners, and a CNC matt cutter.
  • Fox Products in Whitley County, a family-owned maker of musical instruments, is replacing old machines with new routers, lathes, and mills with IIoT connectivity for remote monitoring and manufacturing data collection.
  • Ossian Smoked Meats Corp. in Wells County, a 74-year-old preparer of meat products, invested in an automated saw and weight packaging machine.

 

The Next Gen is Now

There’s little doubt the long-awaited wave of Industry 4.0 innovation is no longer the stuff of tomorrow. It’s right now, and it’s happening every day. All over the state, Hoosier manufacturing firms are leveraging innovation to change the way they do business. And the continued support from the state is only accelerating this trend, putting Indiana companies one very big step ahead of their nationwide contemporaries.

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