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Emerging technologies to create the new industrial revolution

Interview with Cynthia Hutchison

Cynthia Hutchison is a vice president of Automation Alley and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English from Allegheny College. She also founded Band of Angels, an international outreach organization dedicated to helping individuals with Down Syndrome reach their full potential.
In 2017, Hutchison introduced the popular Tech Takeover event series, which provides members an opportunity to showcase their expertise on smart technologies for Industry 4.0 to those in the manufacturing and technology fields.
Today we talk about Industry 4.0 and how it is developing right now. Also, the elements, changes and tools to achieve more efficient and transformative ways of working process and living. There are challenges, but facing and dealing with them, we create our better tomorrow.


1. Tell us more about yourself and your current work at Automation Alley?

I am vice president of Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center and the World Economic Forum’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America. We are the state’s leading business association, representing over 1,100 technology and manufacturing companies. Our programs help guide businesses of all sizes through the digital transformation as technologies like AI, the Internet of Things and automation rapidly impact people and processes. As a non-profit, we facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan’s economy and accelerate innovation.

2. What are the elements of Industry 4.0?

We identify Industry 4.0 as a collection of eight emerging technology sectors, all of which require new ways of thinking and working. These include the Internet of Things; cloud computing; Big Data; artificial intelligence; cybersecurity; robotics; additive manufacturing and advanced materials; and modeling, simulation, visualization and immersion. Separately, these technologies are disruptive, but when integrated together, they are transformative.

3. How is the smart industry going to change our lives?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution of connected and smart factories is creating new ways to design and produce products, changing the way companies operate, creating entirely new business models and revolutionizing the role humans will play in the labor economy. These technologies have gone beyond the factory floor and are making a significant impact in other industries like health care, retail, food and beverage production, aerospace and defense, energy, finance and so on.

4. How is the Industrial Internet of Things beneficial to manufacturers and what are the drawbacks? Do you think it could be a spot for hackers and how cybersecurity is involved in this concept?

The Internet of Things allows for enormous amounts of data to be collected, and when analyzed, can lead to better business decisions for the company and for the customer. However, connectivity leads to privacy concerns that need to be managed effectively, responsibly and transparently.

5. What are the pros and cons of 5G and IoT?

5G is designed to increase speed, reduce latency, and improve flexibility of wireless services. For the manufacturing industry, 5G will truly unlock the power of IoT and allow companies to realize its full potential. Cost of upgrading systems to meet the requirements would be one of the main drawbacks for businesses, especially small and medium-sized manufacturers. However, companies willing to invest time, talent and money into emerging technologies will ultimately see return on investment and those that do not begin the digital transformation will get left behind. 

6. Who are the people that inspire you?

First, my paternal grandfather. Forced to quit school in the fifth grade to support his family, he became a bricklayer. He was my first role model of “continual learning” with his pay from the brick yard, he bought a book every payday. His hardcover Dickens collection sits on my shelf today as does his 3000 page dictionary.

Skipping a couple generations but sticking close to home, my older son, who continues to help his brother with Down syndrome live a full and rich life. Along the way, the teacher became the student and each has a zest for life that inspires me to do my best each day.

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Rumi D.

I am a big fan of traveling, exploration and adventures. This summer I skydove in Hawaii. I am trying to live every moment to the fullest, even the bad ones because through them you can see and appreciate the good. I believe young people should use their time and energy to seek progress, learning and improving skills and follow their goals and dreams. On a rainy day I love reading a good book and cuddle my cat. I also have a big passion for writing and I’m working on my own poetry book.
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