Advanced Manufacturing Advances In Iowa

Industry is thriving in the Hawkeye State with the help of innovative grants and renowned research facilities.

By Roneshia Thomas
From the September/October 2022 Issue

Manufacturing industries are blossoming in Iowa. The state is home to world-renowned research facilities and vigorous innovation. With over 4,000 manufacturing companies calling Iowa home, the industry accounts for 17.3% of the state’s economy.

Iowa is ideally positioned to export these manufactured products around the globe, with a strong transportation network with access to air, water, rail, and highway. To keep the manufacturing sector thriving, Governor Kim Reynolds announced over $20 million in Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce Innovation grants this year. These grants have been awarded to 46 companies across the state, geared toward manufacturers working in Industry 4.0 technologies and having 76-250 employees.

Advanced Manufacturing Iowa
Agri-Industrial Plastics, located in Fairfield, IA, is a custom industrial blow molder of large-scale parts, including non-auto fuel tanks. (Photo: Iowa Economic Development Authority)

“Our Manufacturing 4.0 initiative focuses on one of Iowa’s largest industries, and will help them unleash new potential to grow their businesses,” said Governor Reynolds in a press release. “To maintain our economic vitality in this sector, particularly as we work to mitigate ongoing workforce shortages, these grants serve as a critical resource to support advanced manufacturing businesses. It is imperative that our businesses remain globally competitive and a step ahead of the evolving demands of the 21st century economy.”

The Manufacturing 4.0 initiative has five main goals to help Iowa’s thriving economy and increases productivity. One of these goals is tech adoption and utilization. This program consists of partnerships with Iowa universities and colleges to provide a variety of resources to help manufacturers acquire and integrate Industry 4.0 technologies.

Iowa’s enabling infrastructure for digital technologies goal is to expand high-speed broadband into the state’s rural areas. Adopting Industry 4.0 technologies requires increased bandwidth, latency requirements, and the ability to manage Big Data and advanced analytics.

Improving supply chain linkages focuses on how Industry 4.0 technology adoption is often handed down from larger manufacturers or original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) through supply chain relationships. The program aims to allow Iowa-based businesses to post and respond to requests for quotes (RFQs) and connect with other manufacturers in the state to enhance Iowa’s supply chain.

Accelerating manufacturing startups and scale-ups spotlights how Iowa’s manufacturing industry cluster is characterized not only by innovation among legacy manufacturers, but the ability to support new startups and enable them to scale.