LOS ANGELES—Eight months after establishing itself, the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) is rolling out the roadmap it will use to over the next 18 months begin improving the productivity, performance, efficiency and global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, Interim CEO Jim Wetzel, said yesterday.
CESMII aims to radically accelerate the development and adoption of smart manufacturing—which it describes as the business, technology, infrastructure and workforce practice of optimizing manufacturing through the use of engineered systems that integrate operational technologies (OT) and information technologies (IT). CESMI is focused on the development of advanced sensors, controls, platforms and models to help companies of all sizes and in many manufacturing industries realize the benefits of smart manufacturing.
Wetzel is working to inspire manufacturers to become members of CESMII—and not sit on the sidelines.
Next 12 years critical for industry
On the fact sheet its marketing team compiled for distribution along with the roadmap, CESMII sets an alarm 12 years in the future: “Smart manufacturing is manufacturing in 2030,” it concludes.
Companies that sit on the sidelines will “be at a significant disadvantage” Wetzel said in an interview yesterday with Smart Manufacturing magazine at UCLA, where CESMII is housed while its permanent home just north of downtown Los Angeles is readied. “When you think about enabling technology that can do things 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper, if you have that overhead of the old way of doing it, the new way is going to eat your lunch.”
CESMII in promotional materials notes that it will provide members with access to “affordable, agile infrastructure, sensors, modeling and control technologies though integration with a novel, vendor-agnostic platform, and marketplace of solutions and opportunities, that works with (members’) existing infrastructure and supply chains.”
Perspective members are invited to engage at a national, regional, resource or consortium level depending on the size of organization and other specific factors that will be determined for each member.
CESMII is initially focused on energy-intensive industries, such as oil & gas, food, chemical, iron/steel/materials and specialty materials, such as glass. “Through the capabilities of smart manufacturing, we think we can reduce energy consumption by American manufacturers by 15% by 2030,” he said. “The economic math on that turns out to be about $195 billion of value creation for the U.S. GDP.”
Efficiency gains in unit operations, along with waste reductions, are central to that goal, he added.
CESMII faces 5-year deadline
CESMII itself faces an even tighter do-or-die deadline: The $70 million, 1-for-1 matching grant it won from the US Dept of Energy (DOE) is set to last five years. By that time, it must be self-sustaining—as is the case with all 14 Manufacturing USA institutes.
Manufacturing USA, set up under the administration of President Barack Obama and first called the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, brings together industry, academia, and federal partners “to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and promote a robust and sustainable national manufacturing R&D infrastructure.” DOE has funded four other Manufacturing USA institutes.
CESMII’s roadmap—which can be downloaded at www.cesmii.org/technology-roadmap—outlines strategic objectives, an R&D Portfolio and near-term action plans for advancing smart manufacturing business practices, enabling technologies, smart manufacturing software infrastructure and workforce development.
Objectives of the roadmap, written with input from more than 120 people, include:
- Providing the framework to start the institute and focus CESMII efforts on high-priority smart manufacturing industry needs, such as the availability of objective information on smart manufacturing technologies.
- Set direction for member projects that will feed technology direction.
- Align and cross-link the efforts of CESMII’s five regional manufacturing centers.
- Set the stage for a more comprehensive, more in-depth CESMII roadmap process to cover 2018-2022. CESMII is set to release the rest of its five-year roadmap six months from now, Wetzel said.
The roadmap outlines four areas of work, Wetzel said:
- Business practices of smart manufacturing.
- Workforce development, which he said is focused on post-high school years but will support high school STEM programs. “When you think about how manufacturing is changing from ‘dark and dirty and dangerous’ to ‘high technology,’ and you realize that the workforce is not equipped to do the work of manufacturing today. And as we move to more and more smart technologies, in all of our different factories, the people need to come with it.”
- Enabling sensors.
- A smart manufacturing platform, or software. “An open-source platform with a marketplace is going into sandbox mode on Sept. 25,” Wetzel said, noting that CESMII’s Gulf Coast regional manufacturing center will work it first and showcase the capability. It will rapidly be available to all regions, he added.
The startup organization’s business plan of course has hundreds of parts.
The sophisticated, intuitive, near-term action plan for the enabling technologies alone looks at four topic areas—data, modeling & analytics; sensors; process & controls, and cross-cutting R&D & reusability—that Wetzel calls “swim lanes.” All of the lanes cross from this year into next, and each lane is “filled with the detailed work that is happening,” either this year or next or spanning both years.
Modeling may be the smartest, and trickiest, of the parts.
“It’s the hardest for most manufacturers to be able to figure out how to apply to their business,” he said. “You can take a sensor and plug it in, and a sensor can do things. But most small- and medium-size companies don’t have the capability to do advanced modeling of their process” that leads to system optimization.
General awareness a problem
As CESMII dives in to the details with some manufacturers, it will need to work on a surprising lack of awareness in the U.S. about the promise of smart manufacturing in general, Wetzel said.
When he spoke at a manufacturing company that had gathered 650 employees recently and asked who had heard of Manufacturing USA, “not a single hand went up,” he said. “And when I asked who had heard about smart manufacturing, only a few more people raised their hands. We need to do continue communicating all of the exceptional capabilities our national institutes are creating to advance manufacturing.
“This is an incredible group of people doing great things for US manufacturers. We are working hard to make the impossible posssible.”