It was a pleasure to meet Oakland County (Michigan) Executive, L. Brooks Patterson at the Emerging Automation event hosted by RIA member, Applied Manufacturing Technologies, Inc. (AMT), in Orion, Michigan, on September 12th. As the top executive for Oakland County, the second largest in the United States (some 900 square miles), Patterson’s functions rival that of a governor of a small state.
AMT President, Mike Jacobs, invited Mr. Patterson to present the keynote address. Patterson sited data from RIA in his speech and mentioned to me that he knows RIA well. It’s so very gratifying to learn that all the efforts the Association has made are having an effect, placing us on the radar screen of movers and shakers like Brooks and others. This will only further assist and promote the robotics industry.
This event provided the Association a great opportunity to reconnect with RIA members and prospects alike, tour the AMT robot demos, and become aware of some of the latest technology developments and trends, as presented by Mr. Patterson. These not only affect Oakland County, but some also have ramifications that are cause for communities across North America to sit up and take note. Consider:
• Automation Alley, originally a countywide initiative, has been expanded to the entire Southeastern Michigan region, including the City of Detroit. It is now considered at least an equal to the likes of California’s Silicon Valley and Massachusetts Route 128 high-technology corridors in prominence and innovation.
• A “Top 10” county job/employment projection for 50 years from now reveals a mix covering some interesting industries from financial and biomedical, to homeland security and more, and included robotics as one of the ten on the list.
• Wireless Oakland, a county WiFi access initiative targeted for completion in 2008, will provide free wireless access anywhere in the county. It is being implemented due to a unique public/private partnership(s) whereby the county provides private businesses access to its assets. In exchange, the partner(s) will be required to provide free wireless internet access to residents, businesses and visitors within the county.
Viewing the robot demonstrations, hearing the automation presentations, and learning of these developments at this week’s event leads me to conclude that technological advances, innovation, and manufacturing is far from being written off in North America. Rather, it is undergoing exciting changes in today’s business climate that will lead to a bright tomorrow.