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Defense and manufacturing supply chain companies across the Quad-Cities — and beyond — now have a new resource to assist them as they evaluate and implement emerging technologies into their operations.

The Illinois Defense Industry Adjustment Program, or DIA, and the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce have partnered to release a series of digital technology playbooks for small and medium-sized manufacturers and suppliers. The how-to guides were developed through the chamber's Quad-Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub and the DIA.

"The Hub is dedicated to helping area manufacturers and others in the defense supply chain connect and collaborate as part of an ecosystem focused on growth, business diversification, and remaining competitive as market forces change," said Kristin Glass, the chamber's interim president and CEO. 

The digital playbooks examine the eight technologies the hub and DIA identified as having the greatest potential impact on local companies. They are: Additive Manufacturing, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Digital B2B Platforms, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Robotics and Automation. The CAD/CAM playbook still is in development.

Erin Platt, the chamber's technology communications specialist, said each playbook provides an overview of the technology's current landscape, its best practices, opportunities for use, as well as a business case for implementing it. They also identify steps for implementing the new technology and provide links to expert resources and partners for training, educating, integration, and other support.

While some information is "Quad-Cities-centric," Platt said the resource can be accessed by anyone at quadcitieschamber.com/playbooks.

"It's meant to help your business development decisions if you are looking to implement one technology, two or three, or if you want to know what this can do for your business," she said.

The guides were developed with the help of industry leaders as well as input from the manufacturing hub's User Groups, a series of groups centered around each of the emerging technologies.

Funded by a $5.5 million Defense Industry Adjustment grant in 2015 from the U.S. Department of Defense-Office of Economic Adjustment, DIA is operated by the University of Illinois System in partnership with the chamber and the Voorhees Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"We are thrilled to join with our partners at the Quad-Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub to help companies prepare for the technological changes that are coming," said Joey Mak, Illinois DIA Program director. "By transferring knowledge and insights from one region to another, we can strengthen Illinois' industrial base and the local businesses that comprise it."

The DIA works to help the state's defense and manufacturing industries grow and diversify as they adapt to the defense department's changes, expansions and cutbacks. Its target communities include the Quad-Cities, Rockford, Peoria and northeastern and southwestern Illinois.

For more information on the Illinois DIA Program, visit www.illinoisdia.org.

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