In northeast Indiana, Noble County is working on ways to develop the talent pipeline needed for its rapidly evolving manufacturing sector. Economic development officials will soon open an Industry 4.0 lab at the Community Learning Center in Kendallville. Be Noble Inc., formerly known as Noble County Economic Development Corp., says the facility will help students and adults learn the necessary skills to adapt to new technologies being used in the manufacturing sector.
In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Be Noble Inc. Executive Director Gary Gatman explained the need for the lab.
“Northeast Indiana as a region has a lot [of manufacturing] but we are one of the top concentrations of manufacturing in the state with 122 manufacturers that employ 10,000 of our workers,” said Gatman. “And they they’re investing many millions of dollars every year in new technologies to ensure that they continue to grow and thrive.”
Gatman says Noble County, with a population of approximately 47,000, has a “highly critical shortage” of talent to support manufacturers who are aggressively adopting smart factory applications.
“Advanced technologies, automation, industrial robotics and programming, digital cloud-based applications involved in the manufacturing process,” listed Gatman. “We did not have a a system up here to develop the talent that these manufacturers would need in order to ensure success.”
Gatman says the Impact Institute, which is the local Career and Technical Education provider in the county, will operate a program for high school juniors and seniors. He says they will attend half day classes at the lab every school day
The two-year program will teach them skills in various Industry 4.0 technologies, such as autonomous robots, machine learning, 3D printing, and Industrial Internet of Things.
“They’re going to learn a significant amount of cloud-based communication systems where forklifts are talking to drones and the drones are talking to computers that are talking to people and managing that whole system of communication and product flow,” said Gatman.
He says adults will have access to courses as well, preparing them for new careers and certifications to increase skills for their current jobs.