In a second major Obama administration manufacturing initiative this month, U.S. President Barack Obama launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a national effort designed to bring together industry, universities and the federal government to invest in emerging technologies that will create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.
Speaking in Pittsburgh, Pa. following a tour of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center, Obama noted, “We’ve launched an all-hands-on-deck effort between our brightest academic minds, some of our boldest business leaders, and our most dedicated public servants from science and technology agencies, all with one big goal, and that is a renaissance of American manufacturing.
“Throughout our history, our greatest breakthroughs have often come from partnerships just like this one,” said President Obama. “American innovation has always been sparked by individual scientists and entrepreneurs, often at universities like Carnegie Mellon or Georgia Tech or Berkeley or Stanford. But a lot of companies don’t invest in early ideas because it won’t pay off right away. And that’s where government can step in. That’s how we ended up with some of the world-changing innovations that fueled our growth and prosperity and created countless jobs -- the mobile phone, the Internet, GPS (global positioning systems), more than 150 drugs and vaccines over the last 40 years was all because we were able to, in strategic ways, bring people together and make some critical investments.”
Ensuring manufacturing leadership
The President delivered his remarks to 150 manufacturing CEOs, university presidents, students and faculty, senior leaders from federal agencies and a broad range of employers involved in manufacturing. The AMP was developed based on the recommendation of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which released a report today entitled “Ensuring Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing.” The AMP will be led by Andrew Liveris, chairman, president and CEO of Dow Chemical, and Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The President’s plan, which leverages existing programs and proposals, will invest more than $500 million to jumpstart this effort. These investments will build domestic manufacturing capabilities in critical national security industries and reduce the time needed to make advanced materials used in manufacturing products. Additionally, it will invest in next-generation robotics, increase energy-efficiency in the manufacturing process, and develop new technologies that will dramatically reduce the time required to design, build, and test manufactured goods.
Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition
A new report from the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) called “Implementing 21st Century Smart Manufacturing” supports the initiative. It developed the report to establish a roadmap and set the top 10 priorities for modernizing 20th century factories with 21st century digital information and automation technology to change the way manufacturing is done and capture the economic, efficiency and competitiveness benefits.
“Advanced manufacturing technology is rapidly transforming the global competitive landscape,” said two of the SMLC leaders: Jim Davis, vice provost IT, chief technology officer for the University of California – Los Angeles and Sujeet Chand, chief technology officer for Rockwell Automation. “The companies — and nations — that act now to seize its promise will thrive in the 21st century. Those who fail to fully engage in smart manufacturing will rapidly fall behind,” they emphasized.
While U.S. industry is making incremental progress in using smart manufacturing, the infrastructure needed to deliver the full potential of this knowledge-based manufacturing environment has yet to be developed, according to the report. This infrastructure will enable customers to tell flexible factories of the future what products they want made, reduce time-to-market, drive greater exports due to lower production costs, minimize energy use and materials while maximizing environmental sustainability, and create opportunities for increasingly skilled workers.
The SMLC and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) have formed a working partnership to build a National Smart Manufacturing Ecosystem, It is an iPhone-like “App Store” for industrial modeling and simulation applications and their rapid application. NCMS is also providing their Predictive Innovation Center (PIC) strategy to link nationally to other centers that involve modeling and simulation applications in manufacturing and their national capacity for outreach to small and medium enterprises.
”There are nearly 300,000 small and medium sized manufacturers in the U.S. who could be using advanced manufacturing but have found barriers to adoption,” said Rick Jarman, NCMS president and CEO. “Our national PIC strategy and our collaboration with SMLC will make these tools accessible and affordable to manufacturers of all sizes.”
Areas of attention
Along with representatives from 50 leading manufacturers, technology suppliers, universities, and other organizations, Rockwell Automation, UCLA and the University of Texas – Austin organized a workshop last September that defined the roadmap and action plan for implementation of smart manufacturing. The report prioritizes four areas that need to be developed:
- Industrial community modeling and simulation platforms for smart manufacturing.
- Affordable industrial data collection and management systems.
- Enterprise-wide integration: business systems, manufacturing plants, and suppliers.
“We want to clearly emphasize that no single company or industry segment can achieve this transformation alone and time is of the essence,” said SMLC co-founder Tom Edgar, a chemical engineering professor with UT-Austin.
A very similar “Factories of the Future” public-private partnership program funded with 1.2 billion Euros is in the European Union 2009 economic stimulus package. This further validates the importance and urgency of establishing this U.S. program, said officials. Also, government support for new factories with the latest “smart manufacturing” technologies is accelerating in emerging economies.
Smart manufacturing will provide new ways to extend the essential productivity gains that have kept many U.S. manufacturers globally competitive during the past decade. In addition to cost- and time-savings, it can optimize energy use, improve carbon footprints, and promote environmental sustainability. Further benefits include reduced plant maintenance costs and improved product, personnel and plant safety. Potential improvements in supply chain interaction will also dramatically reduce inventories, increase product customization, and enhance product availability.
Gary Mintchell, firstname.lastname@example.org, is Editor in Chief of Automation World magazine.