Industry 4.0 Learning Factory – Digital transformation opportunities as TTMA, UWI and MIC-IT sign MOU

October 6th, 2022

Industry 4.0 Learning Factory – TTMA, UWI and MIC-IT

The manufacturing and process industries can look forward to cutting-edge skills training and certification opportunities in Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation. This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus (UWI), and MIC Institute of Technology Limited (MIC-IT) to collaborate in the establishment of a Learning Factory to facilitate Training, Industry 4.0 Certification, Research and Development, Process Improvement and other areas of mutual interest.

The MOU will establish synergistic stakeholder relations to forge the substantive goal of accelerating the deployment of Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation in the manufacturing and process industries in the country and region.

Ms. Tricia Coosal, President of the TTMA, highlighted “TTMA is eager to execute a close collaboration with the UWI, St Augustine Campus and MIC-IT. TTMA believes that this partnership can help SMEs to develop the necessary capabilities to operate and compete in the digital environment of Industry 4.0. The skills that will be harnessed via the learning factory will support the industry as it moves towards integrated and flexible advanced manufacturing technology.”

“TTMA sees the learning factory as a driving force towards our strategic objective of promoting the use of technology in keeping with global developments in the manufacturing sector and to effectively respond to disruptive forces,” said Ms. Coosal. She added, “we also see this as an imperative step to our major goal i.e., doubling the country non-energy exports in five years.”

A survey of manufacturing companies in TTMA’s membership demonstrated the need for training and certification in Industry 4.0, with companies recognizing that these skills are critical for their future competitiveness. Therefore, the learning factory will provide a practical environment focusing on high technology and digital skills and will allow companies to train and certify their technicians, engineers and managers in the philosophy and technologies of Industry 4.0.

The MOU will allow MIC-IT to become an authorized Industry 4.0 certification centre offering micro-certification courses to achieve Associate, Specialist as well as Professional Certification for various job positions in the digital environment. MIC-IT Chairman, Professor Clement Imbert indicated that, “Over the past 47 years, it is safe to say that MIC-IT is no stranger to technological and innovative processes in the Manufacturing Industry. Therefore we see this collaborative partnership playing a vital role in upgrading the capability of the manufacturing and process industries in the Caribbean region.”

UWI’s Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine noted that this collaborative and synergistic relationship will accelerate the deployment of Industry 4.0 – also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution – as well as the Digital Transformation in the manufacturing and process industries in Trinidad and Tobago and the region.

“The needs of our region are extremely broad and sometimes competing for attention”, she said. “Nevertheless, The UWI remains committed to exploring the range, doing the research, and creating the technologies and strategies which are of critical importance for sustainable development.

One of the main drivers of the initiative is Dr Graham King, Director of the St. Augustine Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (StACIE), which provides a direct link between academia and public and private sector entities.

“Transitioning to Industry 4.0, which is akin to Digital Transformation for the Manufacturing and Process Industries, will be make-or-break for Caribbean manufacturers,” said Dr. King. “The sector is changing very fast and the region has an opportunity to stay on the cutting edge, if it can embrace this revolution. The Learning Factory will help to provide the skills and confidence needed for local industry to implement this new technology. UWI has ongoing research looking into the opportunities for boosting innovation by adopting Industry 4.0, and the Learning Factory will provide a platform for deepening our research,” Dr. King added.

The TTMA is seeking grant financing for the initial learning factory capital expenditure. “In the long-term we intend for the learning factory to become self- sufficient with the training courses covering the operational expenses,” said Ms. Coosal.