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M4.0: Is the U.S. Keeping Up With Global Competition?

Is U.S. industry lagging behind in its adoption of Manufacturing 4.0?

MLC Board Chairman John Fleming

“It probably is,” said John Fleming, Chairman of the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s Board of Governors and former Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing & Labor Affairs, Ford Motor Co., during his on-screen speech at last week’s 2019 ML Summit in California.
“But there’s still a huge opportunity ahead for U.S. industry, and now is the time to accelerate its efforts,” he added.
Industry predictions suggest that around $220 billion will be spent globally by industrial companies on adopting Manufacturing 4.0 technologies and approaches by 2025.
Taking a global perspective, Fleming identified Germany as currently leading the global M4.0 pack, having first coined the Industry 4.0 name back in 2011 to highlight the concept of the digital industrial revolution. Japan and the rest of Europe he considers as “fast followers”; while he believes China is swiftly catching up thanks to its government-led initiatives such as China 2025.
The U.S. meanwhile, has good federal funding but is slow at implementation, and while the federal network of manufacturing innovation institutes look at the what and why, U.S. companies now need to focus on the how, who, and when.
Those companies need to be willing to learn about and embrace new M4.0 technologies, develop the organizational structures and corporate cultures that are capable of harnessing the power of the data these technologies create, and nurture a spirit of digital acumen among both its leaders and employees to help drive efficiencies, accelerate innovation, fill the workforce gap, and deliver global competitive advantage.
“It will be very difficult for the U.S. to grow competitively in the future without increasing the speed of M4.0 adoption,” he warned.
“The M4.0 opportunity is now,” he added, “but we need to move quickly.”

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