Saturday, March 11, 2017

Funding of millions of dollars destined to the Smart Manufacturing technology

DOE has destined  $ 70 million in the development of smart manufacturing

Smart Manufacturing funding

In September 2015 DOE announced up to $ 70 million in funding for the Clean Energy Manufacturing Institute, which is focused on the development of smart factories. The magnitude of this investment can give us a clear idea of ​​the value that is having in the industry the implementation of this type of technologies, becoming the new way forward.

I remember when I was in the university in an Introduction to Science and Technology course, and I saw for the first time the Modern Times movie by the famous actor Charlie Chaplin. I liked the scene where the new employee arrives the factory and has the assignment to adjust the screws of a series of pieces that are moved by a belt conveyor, this work demanded a lot of concentration and dexterity by the worker to be able to adjust all the screws that were passing at a rapid speed. The new worker tried to fulfill the work with the commitment of not letting go any piece without adjusting it. But the task was too overwhelming and he starts to fill exhausted, his mind was affected until he enter in ambitious madness to do his job and in one attempt to adjust all the screws, by accident he fell in the gear system.

Although it is a comic scene, it reflects how the industry has evolved, initially with many repetitive manual tasks, raising the accident rate of operators. With industrial automation processes became increasingly efficient, moving from manual jobs to more specialized jobs and a palpable reduction of occupational accidents.

Currently the industry continues to develop, seeking new technologies to improve processes, it is precisely the goal of smart manufacturing.

Why organizations are investing so much money in the development of smart manufacturing?

The industry is aware that smart manufacturing substantially increase the efficiency of processes, reduce production costs and generate better services and products. Without it the companies will not be able to compete in the actual market.But new technologies always imply high implementation costs and the uncertainty of their operation, the risks they present to the industry and the evaluation of the worst scenarios.

It is for this reason that the DOE aims to boost the research and development of smart manufacturing, to reduce implementation costs by up to 50% in technologies such as advanced sensors, controls, platforms and models and at the same time reduce implementation risks.

The idea is with the implementation of intelligent manufacturing businesses reduce the costs of consuming less energy and at the same time make the process more efficient to raise the production.

The actors involved in the research and development are the NNMI (National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) that were introduced by the Obama administration, as well as consortiums and organizations involving universities and private companies.

The Investigations or case studies of these institutions are known as test beds. The aim of those is to mitigate short and long term investment risks, improve paybacks, provide methodologies for replication, and shorten development times for the adoption of Smart Manufacturing systems.

Organizations for research and development of smart manufacturing, IIoT and Platform 4.0

One of the organizations that receive DOE funding is the SMLC (Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition) made up of several universities including MIT and more than 23 automation, technology and software companies.

Thomas F. Edgar Ph.D., Director of the University of Texas Austin Energy Institute and co-founder of SMLC, during a webcast entitled "Smart Manufacturing, IIoT, industry 4.0", indicates that the topics driving their test beds are:

  • Connected supply chain: Agile, driven by demand, raw material to finished product.
  • Energy Efficiency: Low emissions, lower energy consumption and environmentally friendly manufacturing.
  • Safe production: Improves safety, less accidents, easier to use.
  • Sustainable production: higher value products, data for decision making, product life cycle management
  • Optimization: Asset utility / zero downtime, quality / zero defects, reliable results.

Smart Manufacturing Network

Here you will find more information on the test beds that are currently working SMLC

There are also other organizations with the same purpose that receive funding from other institutions, such as the IIC and the Platform Industry 4.0.

The IIC is made up of 250 members in 30 different countries, and its test beds involve the following 15 topics: Asset efficiency, condition monitoring, edge intelligence, factory automation platform as a service, factory operations visibility and intelligence, high speed network, industrial digital thread, intelligent urban water supply, microgrid, smart energy management, smart factory web, smart manufacturing connectivity, smart Water management, time-sensitive networks (an emerging IEE Ethernet standard), and track and trace.

The Industry 4.0 platform is being developed in more than 500 sites around Germany, involving government, universities and private companies. Among the topics that involve the test beds that are working are: digital engineering, digital factory, model factory, industrial IT security, logistics, robotics, smart data innovation, smart automation and virtual engineering.

As we see, the research and development of smart manufacturing, industrial internet of things and platform industry 4.0 are having a great impulse on the part of governments, universities and private companies, these investigations are key to improve and demonstrate the benefits that these technologies have and to facilitate their Implementation in the companies.

From the point of view of employment generation, some see as a threat the introduction of these technologies in the industry by the replacement of human work by technology, others on the other hand indicate that more jobs of higher quality will be generated but that people must specialize to adapt to the new industry.

What do you think about the investment that is taking place in the research and development of smart manufacturing?

What do you think about the impact these technologies will have on the world?

Do you think that the implementation of these technologies will reduce or increase employment?