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Five Reasons Why Industry 4.0 is Critical to NC's Economic Future

A new report from the NC Department of Commerce and NC State’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Best Practices for Growing Manufacturing in North Carolina, lays out a critical vision for North Carolina's manufacturing sector to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven by technologies like robotics, AI and data analytics. Supporting this technological transformation should be an economic imperative.

Author: Jeff DeBellis

A new report from the NC Department of Commerce and NC State’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Best Practices for Growing Manufacturing in North Carolina, lays out a critical vision for North Carolina's manufacturing sector to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven by technologies like robotics, AI and data analytics. Supporting this technological transformation should be an economic imperative. Here's why:

1. Industry 4.0 Protects NC's Manufacturing Base

Manufacturing remains a vital economic engine, providing high-paying jobs and tax revenues. But without adapting to advanced technologies, this engine could stall as operations become uncompetitive. Strategic investments enabling manufacturers to integrate new technologies like smart factories and automation can future-proof this crucial industry.

2. Proactive Workforce Policies Are Essential

Developing a skilled talent pipeline adept in areas like programming, cybersecurity and data analysis is key to capitalizing on Industry 4.0. This requires bold policies and funding to upskill and reskill manufacturing workers before jobs are displaced. Traditional training approaches may not incentivize workers enough given personal sacrifices required.

3. Public Support Accelerates Business Adoption

Manufacturers, especially smaller firms, face steep technical and financial hurdles in adopting transformative technologies. Public-private initiatives providing expertise, incentives and resources can help companies overcome barriers and make critical investments in automation, smart factories and more.

4. Robust Supply Chains Strengthen Competitiveness

Because manufacturing relies on complex supplier networks, Industry 4.0 investments have ripple effects across the ecosystem. Continued mapping of in-state suppliers while connecting companies to new partners can enhance supply chain resilience as a business advantage.

5. Economic Development Opportunities Emerge

Boldly transitioning to Industry 4.0 will signal that North Carolina is a global leader in advanced manufacturing. This can attract new businesses, investments and high-skilled talent while enhancing the state's reputation for innovation.

With manufacturing at a critical crossroads, North Carolina has a unique opportunity to safeguard this vital sector while positioning it for future growth. Proactive strategies that derisk technological adoption while cultivating talent pipelines can secure our state’s legacy as an industrial powerhouse.

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