Turns out that I’ve been following developments of US leaders of Smart Manufacturing (yes, a thing, so capitalized) for going on to 10 years. I’ll put a number of links to previous posts that begin in 2011.
The beginnings were a group led by Jim Davis of UCLA, Jim Wetzel from General Mills, John Bernardin from Rockwell Automation, and a few others called the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC). They were developing ideas to fund and promote Smart Manufacturing when eventually the US Federal government began funding test beds and institutes through the Department of Energy.
By then Germany had combined with the Fraunhofer Institute and leading technology suppliers such as Siemens and Festo to use the concept of cyberphysical systems as the basis for Industrie 4.0—an initiative supporting the German machine building industry. The idea had spread to China, and several European countries. The US suddenly was playing catch-up.
At that point the SMLC dissolved and members reconstituted under the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) now called CESMII—The Smart Manufacturing Institute. I wrote an update to this last January after a lunch I had with old friend John Dyck at the end of December 2019. John had left his roles at Rockwell Automation and MESA International to lead this new initiative.
CESMII has been busy developing its own academic partnership with the North Carolina State University. The partners have launched the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center (SMIC) at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. The objective of the SMIC is to link manufacturers, industrial technology vendors, systems integrators and equipment providers with academia, demonstrating and driving research and innovation that scales to all of US manufacturing.
At NC State, pilot plants for biomanufacturing, papermaking, nonwovens textiles, and advanced manufacturing are using Smart Manufacturing tools from CESMII and its nationwide partners.
The SMIC at NC State is a visible proof point of CESMII’s well documented network-of-networks strategy to make Smart Manufacturing readily available and accessible throughout the nation. The SMIC facilities now become available for industry to try innovative Smart Manufacturing solutions and drive their use of Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning, Energy Productivity, Asset Performance Management and so forth.
In its first 45 days this winter, the NC State SMIC successfully demonstrated the integration of a dozen vendor solutions (including: Siemens, Honeywell, Allen Bradley (Rockwell Automation), National Instruments, ABB, DeltaV (Emerson Process Technologies), Andritz and Sartorius) using the CESMII SM Innovation Platform. Avid Solutions of Raleigh, NC, is the strategic Systems Integration partner for this initiative.
A video demonstrating the interoperability of 3rd-party Smart Manufacturing solutions leveraging core CESMII technologies is linked below. This is an excellent presentation, especially the first part where the basics of the platform and ecosystem are discussed. I highly recommend checking it out.
The SMIC Director, Professor Yuan-Shin Lee of NC State, comments, “NC State is a ‘Think and Do’ nationally recognized university for research and innovation. With this CESMII partnership, the NC State SMIC will be able to build and sustain a skilled and innovative Smart Manufacturing workforce with expertise in the requisite technology and best practices, and the ability to develop, continuously update, and deploy customizable, interdisciplinary educational training resources and programs. With this partnership, the NC State SMIC will develop a world-class Smart Manufacturing demonstration facility through partnerships with industry and regional and national laboratories for sustainable workforce development and educational training. We are very excited about this new opportunity. “
CESMII COO, Howard Goldberg, added, “We’re just as excited as the NC State team to make this announcement. NC State is a valued Education & Workforce Development partner for CESMII and will offer CESMII-sanctioned Smart Manufacturing training and education offerings through the SMIC. Additionally, the CESMII technology infrastructure connected to the NC State manufacturing assets will demonstrate the openness and interoperability essential to scaling innovation through Smart Manufacturing solutions beyond a limited pilot phase. We look forward to ending the days of ‘Pilot Purgatory’ which have held industry back for decades by creating and testing solutions at a SMIC and moving them to production environments through the large-scale use of our platform technologies.”