Techtonic Shift: Manufacturers embrace new technologies

How do area manufacturers keep up with the technology and find the talent needed to remain competitive in an ever-changing business environment?

 KELLY M. SCHULZ, Secretary of Labor, Licensing, & Regulation addresses attendees at Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland event.

KELLY M. SCHULZ, Secretary of Labor, Licensing, & Regulation addresses attendees at Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland event.

The 4Th Industrial Revolution referred to as “Industry 4.0” is upon us.  At a recent industry event, manufacturing experts encouraged attendees to be proactive and stay ahead of the monumental changes in the digital world. 

Economic development professionals from both the City and County of Frederick recently attended a seminar sponsored by the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland (RMI) held at the Star Academy in Timonium, MD.   This event, titled “ The Future Impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on Maryland Manufacturing,”  included stakeholder discussions about the technology and talent required for manufacturers to compete in the 21st century.    Manufacturers from all over the state of Maryland listened to an expert panel who shared insight about how to best manage the “Techtonic Shift” that is occurring across industries.  Whether its IoT, 3d printing,/scanning, cyber security, Robotics, or material science, manufacturers need to embrace change quickly to remain competitive.

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Apprenticeship News: Recognizing the challenges of finding and training workforce for this new era, Kelly Schulz, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, announced Maryland’s  plans for the expanding apprenticeship programs across the state.  At the event, Schulz announced the launch of the Maryland Apprenticeship Ambassador Program, an incentive program that raises awareness about registered apprenticeships and encourages job seekers and businesses to engage in apprenticeship opportunities. RMI was honored to be the first ambassador of this program. Additionally, the Maryland Apprenticeship Innovation Fund was established to provide seed money to businesses and apprenticeship providers committed to creating new apprenticeship opportunities to meet their workforce needs.

What tax credits are available for manufacturers to add equipment, new jobs and more?  

Tamar Osterman, Senior Business Development Representative, Carroll and Frederick Counties, with Maryland’s Department of Commerce wants area manufacturers to know about available programs at the state level.  She shared, “One of Governor Hogan’s top legislative priorities of 2017, More Jobs for Marylanders is a new program that incentivizes and encourages manufacturers to create jobs in areas of Maryland that need jobs the most. Created for new and existing manufacturing businesses, the Program provides tax incentives tied to job creation for a 10-year period, encourages additional investment in new equipment through accelerated and bonus depreciation and helps to strengthen Maryland’s workforce.”  Frederick City and County also have Commercial and Industrial (Manufacturing) Tax Credits available for new capital investment resulting in job creation. Manufacturers should work with the Department of Economic Development to claim the most advantageous tax credit program available!

Seminar tidbits from the industry stakeholder discussions:

  • Manufacturers should provide promise of increased pathways for employees showing room for advancement within their companies. While an employee is working at your company, train them for the future! 
  • Cross-training across functional areas is important.  For example, Stanley Black & Decker has  Rotational Program that shifts employees in various functional roles throughout the plant!
  • Foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Identify ways to connect innovators with your company’s needs.  Often, there are concepts being hatched at incubators that have potential to be the next solution to advance technology at your company!
  • Manufacturers will still need humans!  Even with advancements in technology, there will be a need for a “human side” to provide wisdom! 
  • As a piece of general advice, work on developing your replacements!
  • Technology is changing at a fast pace. Just as Amazon has equated to huge shifts in the retail and distribution, manufacturing companies may have to dramatically shift to stay ahead of disruptive waves that are coming. 
  • Remember STEM students are the workforce of the future!   Develop systems to attract and retain talent!
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Thinking of growing or expanding your manufacturing operations?  The Department of Economic Development can assist you with available resources.  Contact DED at 301-600-6360 to schedule a time to meet.  If you need  assistance with recruitment, job training, internships and apprenticeship, contact the Frederick County Workforce Services  who can assist you with finding the talent you need  for this new era in manufacturing!  Frederick is also fortunate to have the Frederick County Manufacturers Roundtable (FCMR) – a membership organization comprised of representatives from local manufacturing companies. The group meets regularly to improve the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry in Frederick County and City.