Tom Kelly is preparing for the revolution. And he wants Michigan to be prepared, too.
Technology is rapidly changing the way things are manufactured, and Kelly wants to make sure that Michigan’s manufacturing companies are at the forefront of what some are calling the world’s fourth industrial revolution—or Industry 4.0, as it’s been coined.
“The only way we’ll be successful is if we understand and move very quickly to protect what we do very well,” he says.
Kelly was then recruited to join Automation Alley. The advocacy agency was first thought up and launched in 1999 by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who wanted an organization to shine a light on how important technology was to the economy and how far advanced our region was in it. The organization has since gathered over 1,000 members and, though their focus has shifted to stay ahead of the times, it continues to advocate for Michigan technology and industry.
“We think that Industry 4.0 will be more impactful to job creation in Southeast Michigan than even autonomous vehicles,” says Kelly. “Now we must win that, too, but factory automation is actually what is going to help us regain our footing in the world.”
Kelly has spearheaded Automation Alley’s focus on Industry 4.0 since he was named the executive director of the organization earlier this year. There’s a significant shift in manufacturing, he says, and not just in automobiles, but also in everything from the defense industry to the produce industry.
Name and title: Tom Kelly, Executive Director
What is one interesting job you had before running Automation Alley: I worked for the Michigan Small Business Development Center as a Technology Business Consultant helping tech startups from conception through rapid growth. I advised over 300 companies in seven years, but what I learned from each of them in the process was priceless.
What’s the most exciting thing about the technology industry today: I believe manufacturing will change more in the next five years than the last 50. Industry 4.0 will change everything, and future winners and losers are being determined today.
What’s your favorite car of all time: ’78 Pontiac Grand Prix with a Landau Top. It was the first car I ever had, and I remember that car and those days fondly.