mHUB, IMEC and UI LABS celebrated the inaugural Fourth Revolution Awards this week to recognize regional manufacturing for its leadership and innovation as the industry stands on the brink of a new technological revolution.
“The Illinois manufacturing industry is one of our state’s best assets, and innovative ideas and products are crucial for its continued growth,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said. “The entrepreneur development and technological advancements supported by our innovation community will help drive the future success of Illinois’ economy.”
"Chicago is the manufacturing hub in the Heartland, making it the ideal home for the Fourth Revolution Awards," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "By investing in transformative technology and ensuring our workforce has a 21st century skill set, the City of Chicago is helping local companies compete both regionally and globally."
The ceremony culminated in the presentation of awards to leaders, companies and industrial initiatives that have made significant contributions to the Chicago region’s manufacturing ecosystem.
The Community Empowerment Award recognizes a program or an initiative that promotes diversity and inclusion in manufacturing.
Winner: The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc. developed the ICATT (Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training) as an industry-driven cluster approach to help companies overcome the challenges they face when trying to find and retain a skilled workforce. Apprentices are part of an earn-while-you-learn program that offers company training based on comprehensive industry standards, an Associate’s Degree at a local community college free of charge, and a two-year employment guarantee at the company after successfully graduating from the program.
“Receiving the Community Empowerment Award is an incredible honor for the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (ICATT),” said Mark Tomkins, president & CEO of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest. “As the only apprenticeship program in the Midwest fully benchmarked on the German Dual Education System, ICATT exists to help companies–especially manufacturers–who are struggling to find and retain a loyal workforce by identifying, vetting, and delivering a pipeline of skilled talent. Manufacturing is thriving and we are proud to work within this innovation-fueled industry,” said Mark Tomkins, president and CEO of GACC Midwest.
The Product Design of the Year Award recognizes a product design that is unique, improves user experience, and impacts productivity as well as the greater good.
Winner: AE Machines empowers small manufacturers to program and reprogram simple automated systems in-house. The program allows users to design their own automated system by building from either the software side or the hardware side of the program.
“We've spent the past two years working with hobbyists and everyday users to figure out how to transition university robotics research into an automation system that anyone can operate and maintain without specialized training; the result of that process is the AE Design Tool. This award will help us achieve our next goal, which is to bring our approach to manufacturers in the region who want flexible automation cells that their existing workforce can maintain,” said Amy LaViers, Co-founder and CTO of AE Machines.
The Innovation of the Year Award recognizes a technology or process that can advance multiple technologies and significantly improve the manufacturing ecosystem.
Winner: Impossible Objects’ CBAM (composite-based additive manufacturing) technology solves the manufacturing industry’s unmet need for a 3D printer solution able to make end parts in high volume. Their innovation allows manufacturers to make efficient parts quickly, cheaply, and locally.
“We are proud to receive this recognition among such an esteemed group of innovators. People live their lives through things, and with our new composite-based additive manufacturing technology we aim to accelerate 3D printing’s disruption of the way things are made,” said Larry Kaplan, CEO of Impossible Objects.
The Startup of the Year Award recognizes an individual startup company for its innovation, creativity, and significant accomplishments in the region.
Winner: Intelligent Flying Machines developed an end-to-end solution that completely automates stock-taking in high-bay rack warehouses at more than 400 times the speed of manual methods and with nearly 100% accuracy and reliability. Unlike competitors, Intelligent Flying Machines provides a completely modular and fully distributed system that operates at full autonomy and without human operators.
"IFM is honored to be recognized for our hard work bringing cutting-edge robotics and AI technology to everyday operations of the manufacturing industry. We are looking forward to using the momentum from the Fourth Revolution Awards to grow our company and promote Chicago's position as a top technology hub for the digital future of manufacturing," said Intelligent Flying Machines CEO, Marc Gyongyosi.
The Small and Mid-Sized Manufacturer of the Year Award recognizes a small- or mid-sized manufacturer that has demonstrated its excellence in business practices, innovative processes, and productivity enhancements as well as contributions to its local community.
Winner: WaterSaver Faucets Co. is a locally-owned and operated corporation of two manufacturing facilities with 160,000 square feet of manufacturing space in Chicago that ship products all around the world. Their hallmarks are quality, product innovation, a high level of service, and competitive pricing.
“As a Chicago-based manufacturer for over 70 years, we are very proud and gratified to have received a Fourth Revolution award. The award recognizes the accomplishments of our 240 people to make innovative, high quality products for our customers. It also recognizes the commitment we have made as a company to stay and invest in Chicago and be responsible members of our community,” said WaterSaver Faucet Co. CEO, Steven Kersten.