Kirkwood joins new statewide ‘Industry 4.0’ consortium

Kirkwood Community College has joined with Iowa’s other community colleges and the Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) to announce a new consortium to support the manufacturing sector in adapting to the next wave of change in manufacturing digitalization and automation, better known as “Industry 4.0.”

The new training and awareness initiative includes partners from across the state. Organizers said in a news release that the consortium will address needed changes in processes for business and new skills for employees.

“Kirkwood is proud to be a partner in this important effort to take manufacturing to the next level in the state of Iowa,” Kirkwood president Lori Sundberg said in a news release. “For over 50 years, the college has partnered with area employers to make sure that our students have the knowledge and training to make an immediate impact once they graduate. Due to new technologies and processes, the manufacturing industry is evolving before our very eyes. It’s critical that we support these key Iowa businesses by ensuring that their future workforce has the skills needed to succeed, and Kirkwood is ready to do its part.”

A January report from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, “Seizing the Manufacturing 4.0 Opportunity: A Strategic Plan for Iowa’s Manufacturing Industry,” called for advancing the knowledge base, expertise, and collaboration among businesses in the state. The new partnership will respond to workforce, training/education and integration needs to help manufacturers strategically address technology investments, workforce pipeline and workforce talent challenges. The consortium will also support Iowa’s manufacturers’ efforts to seize opportunities and remain competitive by providing consultation, education, implementation and access to resources.

Other partners in the new consortium include the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Workforce Development, Professional Developers of Iowa and the Institute for Decision-Making at the University of Northern Iowa.

“Given the needs of our Iowa manufacturers to compete effectively in the dynamic global marketplace, it is exciting to see the supporting state legislature and Industry 4.0 strategic plan that has been developed,” said Jeff Spadaro, vice president of automation and industrial sales for Van Meter Inc. “Seeing the community colleges and other valued members from the Manufacturing Consortium is exactly what is needed to strengthen and keep our manufacturers healthy.”