Michitson Urges Entry Into ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ with Smart Automation

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson. (WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

Haverhill City Council President John A. Michitson. (WHAV News file photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

Haverhill has been known as a major manufacturing hub since the mid-1800s.  One city councilor hopes to continue that trend into the modern era.

During the City Council’s meeting Tuesday night, Council President John A. Michitson proposed the idea of Haverhill entering the “fourth Industrial Revolution” by introducing the idea of “smart automation” into manufacturing businesses. This involves introduction of artificial intelligence into manufacturing, helping businesses to lower the costs of production and increase productivity. Michitson said increased involvement of robotics and computers has untapped potential in the local economy.

“How do we leverage advanced manufacturing innovation to improve the productivity and lower the cost of manufacturing for our base here, and we’re hoping it will spread?”

To emphasize the dangers of high production costs, Michitson highlighted the concept of the “Innovation Valley of Death.” The argument behind this concept is that businesses spend billions of dollars each year in the United States on research for new products, leading to major shortfalls in their revenues that will only boost upwards upon the release of said product.

“So even though a lot of smart people come up with a lot of good ideas, they can’t make them into commercially available products for various reasons,” Michitson said.

In order to remedy this, Michitson suggests that Haverhill not only start inviting start-up companies involved with manufacturing to the town, but that they also encourage younger residents to take an interest in Advanced Manufacturing courses, such as ones available at Northern Essex Community College or Haverhill High School. Michitson also encouraged the council to attend the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub this Spring to begin building connections that would forward this agenda.