Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: Smart Manufacturing Institute Launches

By Julie Tran, CESMII Membership Manager. UCLA has been on the forefront of data analytics and next-generation IT in manufacturing for over 10 years, and was among the co-founders of the initiative in 2006 that led to the formation of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) in 2011. This industry-driven, national non-profit is now an internationally recognized coalition focused on smart manufacturing.

In June 2016, ten years after the term “smart manufacturing” was first coined, the SMLC was selected through a national competition to lead the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), a public private partnership with more than $140 million in public-private investment and geared toward developing advanced manufacturing technology, along with a supporting workforce and education pipeline.

Smart manufacturing is fundamentally about applying advanced sensing, data analytics, modeling, controls, and automation – and a workforce trained in data-driven businesses – to achieve significantly greater manufacturing productivity and performance, product precision, and environmental sustainability through improved energy and material productivity.

UCLA’s Vice Provost of Information Technology Jim Davis said, “Information technology has transformed industries like banking, health care, entertainment, and transportation, but manufacturing has not yet taken advantage of the ways information technology, sensors, analytics, and controls can make transformative impacts.”

CESMII officially launched December 20, 2016, in partnership with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable Energy (EERE).

CESMII brings together nearly 200 partners from academia, industry, and non-profits in over 30 states to spur advances in smart manufacturing that will lead to U.S. innovation, productivity, energy sustainability, and competitiveness. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of smart manufacturing and hence enable the driving, sustainable engine that will deliver real-time business improvements in manufacturing in the United States.

Currently serving as CESMII’s CIO and interim CTO, Davis added, “The CESMII is making it easy to deploy and innovate, using an open smart manufacturing platform and technology marketplace. An open platform makes it possible for small, medium, and large companies to deploy data technologies to access untapped business opportunities and for universities to research, develop, test, and train directly on problems of industrial interest.”

The power of a national collaborative

With support from UCLA leadership and the City of LA, the CESMII is headquartered in Los Angeles. The development of the IT infrastructure for a national smart manufacturing platform and marketplace is operationally based at UCLA’s Office of Information Technology and Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE). It involves partners throughout the country, including the San Diego Super Computer Center and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The CESMII has a national network of Regional Manufacturing Centers (RMC) in California and the Gulf Coast, Southeast, Northeast, and Northwest regions. The regions will leverage advanced technologies developed by the CESMII to form the virtual network of linked resources targeted towards each region’s clean energy, industrial, and workforce objectives.

The California RMC is led by California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC), a non-profit dedicated to improving the manufacturing community. UC Irvine and UC Berkeley are the region’s manufacturer first-line service delivery centers and provide an entree to outreach, consultation, training, and project implementation, as well as state-of-the-art research and training capabilities. These frontline resources are enhanced by a strong collaboration throughout the state involving major academic and research institutions, community programs, industry, and national labs.

A cohesive strategy to tackle industry workforce needs

Industry cannot benefit from advanced sensors, modeling, and data streams, though, without a workforce capable of managing the new technology. California’s world-class university systems and community colleges are uniting to provide the industry-driven workforce and education development strategy for the region.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said, “This is an opportunity for the California education system to develop and be a part of a national, cohesive workforce development strategy to expand smart manufacturing. It will increase manufacturing jobs and lead to the innovation needed to meet energy goals and enhance competitiveness. Cutting-edge training to develop and support high-skilled occupations will secure a diverse talent pipeline.”

By embracing smart manufacturing, industry can become more competitive through innovation, productivity, and efficiency, while achieving environmental sustainability. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh said, “The emerging smart manufacturing economy will create new, highly skilled jobs in our communities. It will be educators’ role to ensure that students and working adults from our communities are prepared not just to fill those jobs, but to excel and evolve with them. The institute leverages existing programs and the unique experience available in industrial settings to prepare a flexible, industry-driven workforce, ready to adapt to the demands of developing technology.”

In the photo below, CEO Ray Collett of CESMII speaks at the kickoff meeting at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, February 22 – 23, 2017.

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