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We have seen a resurgence in manufacturing in the last five years, due in large part to the President’s commitment to strengthening the economy and putting America back to work. Since February 2010, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added more than 800,000 jobs. Today, American manufacturing is more competitive than it has been in decades, and with the support of our information technology leaders, the manufacturing sector can gain even more momentum.
Today, we are announcing the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Smart technologies, such as sensors, can help manufacturers better design, measure, predict and control all aspects of the manufacturing process. As a result, these traditional manufacturing processes become more productive and efficient.
Through this institute, information technology leaders will work with manufacturers in energy intensive industries to manufacture more while spending less and using less energy.
Thermal processing for food, for example, is typically energy intensive, using massive amounts of energy and water to give products a longer shelf life. But through the work of the Smart Manufacturing institute companies can integrate small controls on the thermal processing line to monitor, adjust and improve technology to regulate and reduce energy and water consumption.
And once food is produced, smart technologies can also be used to make the packaging and shipping processes more efficient by allowing manufacturers to see data from their manufacturing line in real-time. This helps manufacturers manage products through their distribution centers and gives them more information about when products are ready to ship.
By modernizing the energy and water intensive manufacturing techniques that have been in place for decades and increasing energy efficiency, we can lower the cost of processing our food, dramatically shrink the footprint of equipment need on a crowded factory floor and enable the large-scale production of wide bandgap semiconductors to increase the efficiency of products that range from industrial motors to household appliances.
The Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be headquartered in Los Angeles, California and led by the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition in partnership with the Department of Energy. The coalition brings together a consortium of nearly 200 partners from across academia, industry, and non-profits—hailing from more than thirty states. Through this institute, information technology leaders will work with manufacturers in energy intensive industries to manufacture more while spending less and using less energy.
The institute will launch five regional manufacturing centers – based in California, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Washington – that will be focused on local technology transfer and workforce development. These regional centers will be home to technology testbeds aimed at helping new smart manufacturing technologies reach the marketplace faster.
The new institute is one of three Energy Department-led institutes in the broader National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a network of manufacturing hubs launched by President Obama in 2012. Through the NNMI, the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute will also partner with existing manufacturing innovation institutes to pioneer technologies at the intersection of their unique capabilities.