Iowa Manufacturing 4.0 Plan Makes Industry 4.0 Projects Possible

iowa manufacturing

If you’ve been holding back on starting a digital transformation project, now may be the time to reconsider—especially if you’re in Iowa.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Innovation Council partnered to launch a new plan in 2021: Manufacturing 4.0. It’s designed to help manufacturers embrace the demands of our technology-driven economy through the integration of automation and smart technology.

We know the topic of digital transformation is top of mind for manufacturers. Even if you haven’t started down the path yet, digital transformation is at least something you’re hearing about. Soon, it will be time to take digital transformation seriously (if you aren’t already). History has shown that manufacturers will likely be left behind if they don’t learn to adapt to disruption. Those slow to change may be surpassed by companies that can pivot to improve productivity and efficiency through the use of technology.

It happened in the late 1800s, when electricity and the concept of mass production were implemented. Manufacturers that ignored these innovations eventually closed their doors. It happened again in the 1990s when computers and simple automation were introduced to the market. And it’s happening now with emerging technology like IoT, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

To make digital transformation more manageable, we’ve spent the last few years sharing what we know about the topic. Our recent TRANSFORM webinar series was dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities of smart manufacturing. We put together blogs providing valuable digital transformation guidance and lessons learned. We’ve joined the Corridor Business Journal and Iowa Association of Business and Industry to share our insights on Industry 4.0 and its impacts on Iowa manufacturers.

When you combine these educational resources with the new grants available as part of the Manufacturing 4.0 plan, Iowa manufacturers now have everything they need to start—or continue—their journeys toward digital transformation.

Maybe your plant is prepared to take the first step and integrate smart sensors to gather data about equipment performance, energy usage, and cycle times. Or maybe you’ve already started your journey and are ready to incorporate robotics to automate dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks.

Depending on your goals, a Manufacturing 4.0 grant may help offset the costs of getting started. Two types of grants are available to Iowa manufacturers:

  1. Manufacturing Innovation Equipment Grants of up to $50,000 to purchase specialized equipment to increase productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness.
  2. Manufacturing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Infrastructure Investment Grants of up to $25,000 to purchase Industry 4.0 hardware or software to improve cybersecurity, data analytics and visualization, etc.

If these grants sound helpful in getting a long-awaited project off the ground, there are a few steps you can take to get started:

  1. Determine whether you qualify. Eligibility is based on number of employees, percentage of revenue derived from the sale of manufactured goods, and how long your plant has been in operation.
  2. Work with the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) to complete an assessment of your technology plan. (How do you want to use the grant money?)
  3. Complete a grant application. The Iowa Economic Development Authority anticipates that applications will be accepted on a bi-monthly basis during an open application window beginning in September. Applications will be scored competitively until all funds are distributed.

Van Meter’s digital transformation experts are here to help you create a roadmap to guide your journey. We can assess your current processes and identify technology that will make an impact on productivity and efficiency.

Want to talk about an upcoming project that might be a good fit for a Manufacturing 4.0 grant? Send us a note to get started.


jeff spadaro van meter



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