Our country is known for its culture of innovation. We are a country of innovators. Innovation in the manufacturing sector has given us a competitive edge in the global economy with revolutionary new products invented and made here. In the last few decades exciting new digital technologies have emerged that can connect devices and networks to make communication easier. These technologies don’t just simplify communication between humans, they can also be used to streamline complex manufacturing systems and processes by allowing devices, sensors, and controls to share information with one another. This integrated network of technologies, known as Smart Manufacturing, brings intelligence to the operation of manufacturing systems. As information becomes easier to obtain and share, U.S. manufacturers are able to leverage advances in information and communication technology to solve problems, maximize the talent of their workforce, and strengthen their competitiveness in global business.
Last week, the Administration announced the selection of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) to lead a public-private partnership focused on applied research and development of smart manufacturing technologies. The Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), will bring together over $140 million in public-private investment and a consortium of nearly 200 partners from across academia, industry, and non-profits, all with the goal of improving energy efficiency and productivity across U.S. manufacturing. It will use open-source digital platforms to enable manufacturers to utilize the tools and technologies that can help them improve energy efficiency and productivity, ensuring the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.
We are already using information technology as an incredibly powerful tool to help solve problems in many aspects of daily life, but it can also be a valuable asset to increase energy efficiency and productivity in U.S. manufacturing. We are now able to set up a network of advanced sensors, data analytics, and process controls so they can communicate and exchange data throughout a factory or even across multiple manufacturing sites. Smart integrated technologies can help manufacturers gain unprecedented real-time control of energy, productivity, and costs across factories and companies.
Smart Manufacturing Technologies Help Manufacturers Maximize Energy Efficiency and Productivity
The integration of Smart Manufacturing technologies into manufacturing processes can serve multiple functions. They can:
- Provide a framework for control – Energy, productivity, and costs across factories and companies can be monitored and controlled in real-time. With easier access to this information, manufacturers can maximize talent and productivity by strategically deploying their workforce throughout factories.
- Predict failure – Think of the “change oil” light that monitors and illuminates a car’s dashboard before the oil actually needs to be changed – the same kind of alerts can be set up within manufacturing facilities to notify operators when it’s time to change a filter or a valve, preventing larger problems from occurring and reducing system down time.
- Streamline processes – Advanced modeling and simulation, along with new artificial intelligence capabilities can eliminate costly trial-and-error and actively correct problems in manufacturing processes.
All of these benefits of smart manufacturing technologies can help save money, conserve energy and resources, and keep U.S. manufacturing competitive in the global clean energy race. These technologies are within our reach and a public-private partnership to support applied research and development will provide a platform to invent and produce competitive products here in the U.S.
This institute is part of the Administration’s broader National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) – a cross-government, collaborative effort made up of nine awarded institutes. The NNMI represents over $600 million in Federal government investments and $1.2 million in non-Federal resources from industry, academia, and state governments. These institutes aim to catalyze the research, development, and deployment of broadly-applicable technologies to make the manufacturing sector more competitive.
Watch this video on manufacturing in the global clean energy race to learn why public-private partnerships like NNMI institutes are important to the pursuit of American prosperity in energy and manufacturing.
To read the full announcement, click on the White House fact sheet on President Obama’s announcement of investments in new manufacturing hubs.