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Your Guide to Industry 4.0 and Preparing for a Career in Smart Manufacturing


When you enter some of the most advanced manufacturing centers today, what will you see? Robotic arms performing complex tasks, whole systems connected through the Internet of Things, computer screens running continuous metrics, and people monitoring autonomous production lines. This is the future of manufacturing and it is already here for many factories around the country. These factories need employees who are trained to operate these systems and who understand the data that drives them. The Larry and Judy Garatoni Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Automation at Ivy Tech in Elkhart County, IN can teach you the skills you need to be successful in this new hi-tech environment.


What is Industry 4.0?

According to Forbes, Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth revolution in manufacturing. The first industrial revolution brought the introduction of mechanization through water and steam power, the second introduced mass production and assembly lines using electricity, and the third revolution introduced the manufacturing world to the adoption of computers and automation. The fourth revolution will build upon what was introduced in the third revolution and add smart and autonomous systems that utilize data and machine learning.


With the Internet of Things connecting whole factories, new possibilities are entering the picture. Manufacturing efficiency is increasing exponentially. Through machine learning, machines can monitor their own status and signal when parts need to be replaced or fixed before they break, allowing production to continue without long shutdowns for repairs. But machines can’t do it alone. These smart manufacturers need a skilled workforce; employees who are able to integrate with this emerging technology.


Challenges Facing Manufacturers

Many manufacturers are taking advantage of the benefits of implementing more data-driven processes. They understand how this efficiency can decrease production times while also making work safer and more enjoyable for employees. While more manufacturers are implementing smart systems and autonomous production lines, the current workforce does not necessarily have the skills and training needed to integrate with these new high-tech systems. Companies need to attract suitably skilled new hires or reskill their current workforce in order to keep up with the new equipment. While reskilling or upskilling their current workforce and implementing these new systems and equipment can be a significant undertaking for a company, if implemented properly the enhanced future production using smart manufacturing systems can offset the upfront costs.


How Can You Prepare for an Industry 4.0 Career?

Smart manufacturing is changing the training needs of manufacturers. Previously, many manufacturers needed workers capable of handling difficult manual labor. However, with a growing focus on automation, the need for a more skilled workforce is emerging. This workforce needs to have great problem-solving skills, understand data, and have the ability to work with technical production systems.


Industry certifications and training programs are available for new workers entering the industry as well as current workers wanting to take their careers to the next level. The Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA) has multiple certifications to ensure that individuals are prepared to be successful in an Industry 4.0 world and companies have the highly skilled workers they need. SACA’s Smart Automation certifications use a modular structure to enable them to fit a wide range of individual needs, industries, and educational environments. Each certification is stackable, allowing individuals to start with one certification and add other certifications to customize their documented skills. Certifications are occupationally-focused, so they prepare individuals for specific occupations in the world of Industry 4.0.


Ivy Tech has programs that integrate these certifications so you gain industry credentials while you get a certificate or degree. Training programs and courses are available for many skilled jobs in manufacturing including robotics, data analysis, and programmable automation control systems. These Industry 4.0 training programs utilize interactive learning activities, traditional classroom components, and collaborative learning to provide students with hands-on experience that prepares them for high wage jobs.


Industry 4.0 Training through Ivy Tech’s Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration Program


Ivy Tech Community College offers an excellent program catering to the development of the Industry 4.0 workforce. Utilizing the Larry & Judy Garatoni Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Automation (commonly referred to as the iFlex lab), Ivy Tech is able to provide training to local manufacturers and those seeking a career in advanced manufacturing with the following pathways: Mechatronics, Automation/Robotics, Industrial Maintenance, CAD Design, Information Technology, Quality/Lean/Continuous Improvement, and Logistics/Supply Chain.


This program offers three pathways: an Associate of Applied Science degree (70 hours), a certificate (21 hours), and a technical certificate (31 hours). This flexibility lets students choose the level of program commitment that fits their life, allowing the continuation of employment while completing coursework as well.


Within the Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration Program, you’ll find courses on:

  • Industrial Robotics

  • Electrical Systems in Manufacturing

  • Sensors in Manufacturing

  • Programmable Automation Control Systems

The iFlex lab, located on Ivy Tech Community College’s Elkhart, Indiana campus, is the primary location for the SMDI program.


Manufacturing centers are taking strides to advance their equipment and workforce, proving that Industry 4.0 is here. These advancements are creating many well-paid opportunities for workers who have the high-tech skills that are in demand.


To learn more about the Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration Program, visit IvyTech.edu/SMDI.

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