Robots are beginning to show up everywhere. Of all the amazing technical developments that are part of Industry 4.0, the fastest growing sector is robotics. By 2020, over $100 billion a year will be invested in robots and this amount is projected to double every two years.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference in Troy, hosted by the CATS center at RPI. The focus of the conference was advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. I had the opportunity to be part of the conference and gave a talk titled, “Building on New York’s Manufacturing Legacy in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.” Industry 4.0 is an amazing step forward in technology and defines an exciting era for manufacturing which began just this decade.
I recently attended the New York State Manufacturing Conference hosted by the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) center at Rensselaer. It was a spirted event attended by participants from a variety of individuals and companies whose primary focus was promoting and advancing technology and manufacturing in New York. Robots and cobots were everywhere. More than 70 organizations were represented from industry, academia, economic development and technology centers.
Every year Deloitte carries out surveys. One of the surveys and trends addresses the state of mergers and acquisition trends. Recently they published their comprehensive look at M&A activity for 2019. Their survey looked at deal trends and predicted deal strength will remain strong in 2019. Some of the reasons cited were tax reform, a more relaxed regulatory climate, and growing cash reserves among corporations and investors.
Unemployment is down, manufacturing is up, and the demand for skilled trades hasn’t been this high for a long time. There is a gap between demand and the available skilled workforce. This is true in many trades. One example is electricians. According to numbers from the National Electrical Contractors Association, 7,000 electricians join the field each year, while at the same time 10,000 retire.
During the past decade, the Internet of Things has been steadily advancing and becoming a part of our lives. We get texts from our cars when the tire pressure is low or suggesting we should stop and buy another gallon of windshield washer fluid. We can turn on the oven or close the garage door at home from our office. These opportunities are supported by small amounts of data and provide simple solutions.
In November I attended the Rockwell Automation Fair in Philadelphia. The conference and exhibition were all about automation, advances in automation and a display of the newest control and manufacturing technologies by Rockwell and their partners. While it was about their proprietary technologies and products, it was also representative of where the entire world of automation industry is going. Crowds were large, and the most highly attended booths were the ones showing off Industry 4.0 related technologies.
Pet food manufacturing is a 20-billion-dollar industry. In the United States, the manufacture of pet food is regulated in the same way and with the same rigid requirements that are required for the manufacture of any food. At Optimation we are engaged in the construction of pet food plants as well as facilities for the dairy and other food products. We know that the facilities for both are the same. They must be sanitary, easy to maintain and clean. The control systems must maintain the same high standards for metering, mixing and packaging.
The Internet of Things is revolutionizing all areas of our lives. Manufacturing Industry 4.0 is a revolution as transformative as the first industrial revolution that began nearly three hundred years ago. Over the past few years major manufacturers of industrial control products, as well as smaller software companies and start-ups, have been developing and introducing software and software tools to provide analytics and artificial intelligence to improve both manufacturing processes as well as products manufactured. Advancements in manufacturing analytics are coming fast and furious.
The pet food industry in the United States is huge and growing. In 2017, American families spent over 30 million dollars on pet food. On average that’s about 800 dollars per year per pet. There are about 300 manufacturers making this pet food in the United States. If you’re a pet owner yourself, these numbers may not be much of a surprise! What you may not realize is that just like food for people, pet food is regulated.
Today there are stringent regulations put in place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the manufacturing of food for pets. These regulations are strict enough that some feel they hinder the growth of the pet food market. The regulations were put in place to assure several things. It’s mandatory that pet food be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, free of harmful substances, and labeled truthfully. Canned pet food must also comply with the regulations for any low-acid canned food. Much of the motivation to enhance regulations for pet food was driven pet food recalls that took place in 2007.