Mill 19 Is A High-Tech Facility With A History Of Major Manufacturing

Sep 5, 2019

A robot cut the ribbon at the groundbreaking for a new technology innovation facility in Hazelwood Wednesday.

The machine was an appropriate touch for Mill 19, the first renovated building to open at Hazelwood Green, the 178-acre site that sits on the former Jones & Laughlin Steel Company land along Second Avenue.

The 60,000-square-foot space will feature Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing nonprofit as anchor tenants. Gary Fedder with MFI said the space will be a high-tech resource for manufacturers in the region.

Gary Fedder, Manufacturing Futures Initiative Faculty Director, speaks with media about the future of Mill 19 on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“We’ve constructed this, right now, to be open space that we can conceive having mobile robots being able to run around from work cell to work cell, project to project,” Fedder said. 

While the robots weren’t exactly running through Mill 19, the opening celebrations featured multiple  demonstrations of manufacturing machines. One display pitted a crane-like machine against a human to sort red and white pills. Laura Evans with the automation company FANUC said the robot is already widely used to sort pills in pharmaceutical settings and the food industry.

“These types of robots with vision are very popular in any consumer products,” Evans said. “In food, for picking things off a bakery belt or a frozen food belt and sorting them into the flow wrappers.”

Many of the officials at the ceremony spoke about the “future of manufacturing” and how Mill 19 and Pittsburgh innovation would fit into the industry. But many acknowledged the growing workforce gap, which is estimated to leave millions of jobs available due to lack of training. Petra Mitchell with the economic development agency Catalyst Connections says that’s exactly why her company will be embedded in Mill 19.

Military service members, elected representatives and community stakeholders gathered at Mill 19 to watch demonstrations of robots and AI technology.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

“We will be leading initiatives to engage employers in career awareness and workplace learning to bridge this gap between employment demand and the supply of workers,” Mitchell said. “This new space is just the beginning.”

Representatives of the industries who worked together to make Mill 19 happen cut the ceremonial ribbon along with a robot developed through Carnegie Mellon University initiatives.
Credit Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In the 1970s, J & L Steel sold the site to the LTV Incorporation, who owned it up until the late 1990s. After years of remediation work and investment, modern efforts began around 2012. The site has received pushback from the nearby Hazelwood community, whose residents fear development will drive up costs and force longtime neighbors to leave. But Mayor Bill Peduto, among others at the ribbon-cutting, assured the crowd that no one would be left behind.

“What happens here will benefit all,” Peduto said.

Work continues on the Hazelwood Green site and more tenants are expected to move into Mill 19.