Automation Alley: Gateway for Advanced Manufacturing Across the Globe
In October 2022, the White House launched its official National Strategy for Advanced
Manufacturing. This comprehensive strategy creates a vision for U.S. leadership in
Advanced Manufacturing to grow the economy, create high-quality jobs, enhance
sustainability, and strengthen supply chains. And when the U.S. leads, others will follow.
Therefore, it is critical to find innovators and disruptors who will lead the way and
provide a gateway for Advanced Manufacturing across the globe.
So, how exactly are these innovators and disruptors located and what is being done to
grow the advanced manufacturing industry in the U.S.?
Ron J. Stefanski knows where to locate those visionaries. One of his favorite go-to hubs
is Michigan’s Automation Alley, the nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center and home
to the World Economic Forum’s US Centre for Advanced Manufacturing. Stefanski and
his co-host, Dr. Caesar, went straight to the top for this installment of
DisruptED, inviting Tom Kelly, Executive Director & CEO of Automation Alley, to share
his insights on the significant disruptions happening in the Advanced Automation space.
Even for someone with loads of experience like Kelly, keeping up with the fast-moving
changes can be daunting. Still, he sees advanced manufacturing as a golden
opportunity to jump-start the middle class in America.
“We need to recognize in America that if you make stuff, prosperity follows,” Kelly said.
“If you don’t make stuff, the rich get richer because the service economy allows the
knowledge to continue to grow, but we have to be a society for all people to have an
opportunity to be prosperous, and manufacturing is one path to that.”
Stefanski, Mickens, and Kelly’s conversation included:
• The evolution of Industry 4.0 and the ability to create value in manufacturing
• The U.S.’s position to be the global leader in advanced manufacturing
• How Automation Alley uses its platform to grow U.S. interests in advanced global
“Automation Alley’s mission is to change culture,” Kelly said. “We talk a lot about
technology, but that’s the false flag we put out there. Technology is interesting, and it is
how you affect the ability to be effective and efficient at small scales going forward, but
we really need to change culture—get people to recognize that I am not in
manufacturing for manufacturing’s sake.”
Tom Kelly is a globally recognized expert on Industry 4.0 and its impact on business. As
executive director and CEO of Automation Alley, Kelly oversees strategic planning and
all ongoing activities for the organization, including programs and services designed to
help businesses increase revenue, reduce costs, and make strategic decisions during
rapid technological change. Kelly joined Automation Alley in 2014. He chairs the boards
of the U.S. Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, a partnership between Automation
Alley and the World Economic Forum, and Project Diamond, an additive manufacturing
marketplace. In addition, Kelly has launched three startup companies of his own.
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