Elisha Tropper, Founder and CEO, JAG Capital Holdings

Elisha Tropper is the Founder and CEO of JAG Capital Holdings and the Founder and CEO of Cambridge Security Seals. Elisha’s extensive background combines hands-on entrepreneurial and operational experience with M&A and financial expertise. Previous roles included President of Cambridge Resources, CEO of T3 Associates, President of Prestige Label, and as a senior consultant at Price Waterhouse’s strategy consulting practice. Elisha has served on the boards of several companies and organizations, including HP’s International Digital Products Advisory Council. A frequent speaker at management conferences, Elisha has published dozens of articles in leading business publications. Elisha has a BA in English Literature from Yeshiva University and received his MBA from Columbia Business School.


One of the most technologically evolving sectors in the economy is manufacturing, where the synthesis of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering has spawned the transformative discipline of mechatronics. Rapidly emerging as the bedrock of modern manufacturing, this interdisciplinary field combines traditional mechanical processes and operations with pioneering digital technologies. As the competitive pressures on industrial production demand greater efficiency, flexibility, and innovation, the critical nature of mechatronics rises exponentially. It is essential for companies seeking growth and security in the new manufacturing world to fully understand and incorporate this new skill set into their toolbox of capabilities.

Mechatronics, as the name indicates, is a blending of “mechanics” and “electronics,” and denotes the integration of mechanical systems with electronics and computer controls in the design and functionality of manufacturing equipment and processes. As a field, mechatronics has hovered on the fringes of mainstream manufacturing culture since the emergence of computers, robotics, and automation in the 1950s and 1960s. The embracing and implementation of digital technologies into the manufacturing sector over the past three decades has substantially expanded the scope of mechatronics, and today it unquestionably resides atop the industry’s most desired skill sets.

The building blocks for just about every modern manufacturing process involve the seamless integration of mechanical components with electronic sensors, actuators, and other embedded digital systems that, when effectively synchronized, yield revolutionary levels of accuracy, output, agility, and cost-efficiency. These mechatronic processes and systems optimize production workflows, discern and reduce bottlenecks, and enable the high-speed and precise automation of complex tasks and multifaceted operations to deliver higher quality at lower costs.

Examples of the impact of mechatronics on manufacturing include:

  1. Unprecedented Automation: Effectively designed mechatronic systems reduce dependence on manual labor, can operate around the clock without pause, ensure consistent productivity and output, and eliminate human error from the production equation.
  2. Accuracy: The ability to precisely engineer an automated production line with integrated systems of highly accurate sensors, controls, monitoring, and feedback mechanisms is one of the defining characteristics of mechatronics and has become essential for manufacturing high-tolerance components such as medical devices and microelectronics.
  3. Enhanced Quality: Mechatronics enables a significantly higher level of vigilance and adherence to predetermined standards through its intricate network of sensors and quality control algorithms, which not only identify and isolate defects in real-time but can also correct the problem by making adjustments to the process as necessary, reducing costly rework or expensive and brand-diminishing product recalls.
  4. Energy Efficiency: In many cases, mechatronic systems, utilizing the latest in energy-efficient equipment such as drives, motors, and intelligent controls, can play a key role in reducing a company’s carbon footprint and enhancing its sustainable manufacturing practices by aggressively adjusting power and other operating parameters based on varying conditions and production requirements.
  1. Flexible Manufacturing: The rapidly evolving marketplaces of industrial technology and consumer needs and tastes require manufacturers to adapt quickly to effectively and efficiently meet diverse customer requirements by implementing mechatronic systems which enable quick-turn prototyping, just-in-time production models, and the rapid reconfiguration of production lines when necessary.

The importance of mechatronics to manufacturing companies has birthed an array of digital tools that facilitate the design, development, and continuous improvement of efficient production lines. No modern manufacturing toolbox is complete without Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, which facilitates the efficient creation, modification, visualization, and simulation of digital models for design and prototyping, and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software, which interprets CAD models and optimizes their efficiency by streamlining production workflows and minimizing waste. Many companies, especially those producing highly regulated or intricate parts or devices, also utilize advanced simulation and modeling software, which enabling engineers to optimize designs by analyzing simulated performance at the planning stage.

Actual production lines themselves typically include PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), which are small digital computers that execute logic commands and sequences to control industrial automation, monitor sensors, and regulate processes in real-time. In addition, most automated production lines incorporate HMI (Human-Machine Interface) software, typically operated via a touchscreen, that provides line operators with the ability to oversee the operation, diagnose problems, and, when required, make adjustments to the process.

Some companies take the management of their manufacturing enterprise to a higher realm by implementing an avatar-like virtual replica of their automated machinery and/or processes known as a Digital Twin. Mechatronic systems utilize real-time simulations of digital twins to generate a range of efficiency-yielding benefits, from predictive maintenance and equipment optimization to planning for production variables, product customizations, and even the introduction of new machinery or controls.

Over the past decade or so, the global manufacturing industry has embraced the interconnectivity of IOT, (Internet of Things) platforms, which utilize the Internet to link, monitor, maintain, and capture real-time data for entire automated operations comprised of disparate equipment. The organized and thoughtful integration of all this activity and data enhances the manufacturer’s ability to optimize asset utilization, minimize downtime, and improve overall efficiency and productivity.

With all of these ever-advancing technologies at the disposal of forward-thinking manufacturers, the challenge of developing a workforce capable of designing, implementing, and operating these highly efficient automated systems remains perhaps the greatest barrier to progress. The demand for skilled mechatronics professionals simply overwhelms the current supply. Without a surge from the current generation’s emerging workforce, the pace of industrial advancement will slow, and the benefits to society of increased quality and production efficiency will be delayed. This will impact everything from essentials like drug and food prices and the delivery of healthcare to the development and mainstreaming of renewable-energy-based products like transportation and housing.

Mechatronics is unquestionably a critical enabler of innovation and competitiveness in modern manufacturing. Companies across all industries seek the enhanced quality, increased output, and lower costs enabled by the seamless data-driven automation made possible by the integration of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. The digital tools to transform manufacturing exist, and their capabilities are continuously being updated and upgraded.

However, realizing the full potential of mechatronics requires an educated and skilled workforce that is currently lacking. This impediment to realizing the potential of advanced manufacturing – and the world-changing impact that is delayed as a result – requires thoughtful, pragmatic solutions, something that sadly will probably never emerge from the political class. It is up to the private sector to design a credible and implementable pathway to mechatronics education, one that attracts, incentivizes, and motivates highly capable individuals with the interest, capability, and drive to change the world through hands-on technological improvements.

Manufacturers who readily embrace digitalization will thrive and be best positioned to more transformatively incorporate artificial intelligence into their already highly automated operations. The digital age arrived decades ago, but its everchanging and accelerating nature retains today the mysterious but tantalizing aura of the very first desktop computer in the 1970s. Mechatronics is the digital frontier of manufacturing and will, as a discipline, an industry, and a key facilitator of the growing world economy and population’s well-being, only continue to evolve.

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