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White House Creates Sensor-Focused Innovation Institute, Plans Five More

Posted By Jeff Moad, June 20, 2016 at 4:02 PM, in Category: Transformative Technologies

133405959_Evaporators_in_Factory.jpgThe Obama Administration has announced the creation of a Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute which, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, will focus on accelerating the development of smart sensors, data analytics, and advanced control systems for manufacturing.

At the same time, the Administration announced plans to create five new manufacturing-focused innovation institutes, focusing on a range of emerging technologies, from collaborative robotics to advanced tissue fabrication.

The new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the ninth created since 2012 under the President’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) initiative, will be headquartered in Los Angeles and will be led by the four-year-old Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition in collaboration with 200 industry, academic, local, and state manufacturing organizations.

The new institute will focus on “accelerating the development and adoption of advanced sensors, data analytics, and controls in manufacturing, while reducing the cost of these technologies by half and radically improving the efficiency of U.S. advanced manufacturing,” according to a White House statement.

The new institute will receive a $70 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. That will be supplemented by $70 million already pledged by academic, business and not-for-profit partners.

The SMII will establish five regional manufacturing centers, charged with facilitating technology transfer and workforce development. They will be led by the University of California at Los Angeles, Texas A&M University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and North Carolina State University.

Much like another NNMI institute, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute said it will use an open-source digital platform and marketplace to make sensor and other technologies available to manufacturers.

The Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute will align with and compliment the ongoing work of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition which has tended to take a broader approach to defining and developing smart manufacturing technologies and capabilities, said Jim Davis, vice provost of information technology and chief academic technology officer at UCLA, a founder of the SMLC, and a member of the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s Board of Governors.

“What is different is that the SMLC can expand significantly on development and adoption of sensor, control, platform, and modeling technologies. It can greatly increase the cross linking of technology expertise, cross industry solutions, training, and reuse of advanced data and modeling technologies. It can accelerate the development and role of the [smart manufacturing] Platform and more rapidly proliferate a marketplace of reusable modeling technologies and toolkits with a significantly expanded number of test beds to build out the reusable hardware and software systems,” said Davis.

At the same time, the White House announced plans to launch five additional Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, which collectively will invest about $800 million from federal government and private sources to accelerate development of a wide range of digital manufacturing technologies. The five new institutes, expected to be launched this year, are:

  • The Robotics in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing Innovation Institute to focus on smart, collaborative robotics;
  • The Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute, to focus on next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells and tissues;
  • The Modular Chemical Intensification Institute, to focus on streamlining chemical and refining production processes;
  • The Reducing Embodied Energy and Decreasing Emissions in Materials Manufacturing Institute (REMADE), to focus on reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of man-made materials;
  • And at least one “open topic” institute which will focus on emerging manufacturing technology areas not yet covered by existing or planned institutes. The White House is inviting industry participants to submit proposals for this institute.

Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit

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