Get ready! The application is now available for the second round of funding for the Maryland Manufacturing 4.0 grant program. This program offers valuable grants to small and mid-sized manufacturers in Maryland. It empowers manufacturers to invest in cutting-edge technologies, such as robotics and digital business practices, aligned with the principles of Industry 4.0. This pilot program is transitioning to a permanent three-year program, funded by Governor Moore and the General Assembly. With one million dollars available in funding, competition is expected to be keener than last year! The applications launched August 7th and the final day to submit is October 18th at 5:00 PM.
This is an incredible opportunity for manufacturers to stay competitive and drive efficiency. Studies have demonstrated that companies that strategically invest in Industry 4.0 technologies experience increased productivity, sales, cost savings, and employee retention. By leveraging these innovations, metal fabricators can unlock new opportunities for operational improvements and boost productivity.
Depending on the size of your company, awarded grants will cover 50-75% of project costs. And 20% of the funds will be reserved for small manufacturers with 3-50 employees, so smaller manufacturers won’t miss out! When considering funding requests, factors such as the organization's location in Maryland, how many people they employ, their sector, ownership (women owned/minority owned), and economic need will all be taken into consideration. In order to be eligible, your entity must be registered as NAICS 31-33 manufacturer located in Maryland, regardless of parent company location. Your company can have multiple NAICs codes, as long as one ends in 31, 32, or 33.
Bear in mind, this is not a bridge to start a manufacturing process but rather for those already making products and seeking 4.0 technology advancements. So this program is not for replacing old equipment- your company needs a long-term vision for how you will achieve 4.0. Your proposal should fit within that vision and show how it will make a key difference on the path to 4.0!
Awards will be announced in early December and recipients will get half the money upfront, followed by reimbursement throughout the year. In order to receive funding in full, receipts will need to be submitted. That being said, the project does not necessarily need to be completed within this year, so long as all money has been spent before the end of that calendar year.
Recent developments in the metal fabrication industry have witnessed the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies to revolutionize traditional workflows. These funds can be used to adopt sensors and AI that will improve your manufacturing process, preventative maintenance, productivity levels, machine uptime/downtime and overall business intelligence! Let's explore some key ways metal fabricators can harness this grant program to optimize their operations:
Connected Welding or Plasma Cutting Machines for Real-Time Monitoring and Collaboration
Connected machines enable seamless communication and collaboration across the shop floor. Through the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors embedded in machines collect valuable real-time data on equipment performance, consumable consumption, and maintenance needs. This data can be analyzed to identify bottlenecks, optimize production schedules, and ensure proactive maintenance, minimizing downtime and maximizing efficiency.
Automation for Streamlined Tasks and Increased Efficiency
Automation plays a pivotal role in reducing human error, improving precision, and accelerating production cycles. Welding robotic systems or cobots can handle repetitive or labor-intensive tasks with greater speed and accuracy, allowing skilled operators to focus on more complex responsibilities. Additionally, automated cutting tables can greatly assist in consistent component production and productivity.
Don't forget that this grant will also cover employee training and consultative services around 4.0 technologies. So, the costs that always come with using new systems, technologies, or equipment is covered- setting your team up for success!
What can the funds not do?
Unfortunately, grant funds cannot be used to reimburse pre-purchased technology.
Having a compelling application in this competitive grant is very important! Companies should consult vendors for quotes and specs to make the application package more robust. Since the state is unlikely to give multiple awards to a single company, applicants should put their best foot forward and submit their strongest application. These applications need to tell a story- think of how new technology can lead to increased sales, new hires and a new product line and elaborate on that.
If you're not yet feeling inspired or excited by the possibilities, consider attending the Maryland Manufacturing Innovation Conference. The event will take place at the University of Maryland College Park Hotel on October 3rd, 2023. It will feature a tech showcase with providers and integrators displaying scanning, AR/VR, robotics and automation solutions. The event will also cover learning topics related to technology, talent and transformation in order to help businesses improve. Swing by Earlbeck's booth to learn about the best solutions for your business!
The previous round of funding for this grant allowed 23 businesses to modernize their operations- this could be you!
Applications are all reviewed after the deadline and earlier applications will not receive preferential treatment- so take your time making the best plan for your business. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity! Let Earlbeck help your company find ways to focus on innovation and continue to differentiate yourself from competitors to attract new customers!
Further information regarding the conference can be found here!