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DMDII kicks off cybersecurity initiative with seed funding from Pentagon

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing
Flanked by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and US Sen. Dick Durbin, the Pentagon’s Tracy Frost today announced $750,000 in seed funding for a Cyber Hub for Manufacturing. (Photo by Brett Brune)

CHICAGO–The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) today kicked off a new cybersecurity initiative focused on manufacturing. The US Department of Defense (DoD) ponied up $750,000 to support the initiative in part because cybersecurity is in urgent need of the type of collaboration offered inside public-private partnerships like DMDII, said Tracy Frost, director of DoD manufacturing institutes and acting director of DoD manufacturing technology.

“This funding will be used to test cybersecurity use cases in a real-world environment with the support of the DMDII network of more than 300 partners, and growing,” she said. “Cyberattacks are increasing, and the US manufacturing sector is a major target—especially our quarter million small and medium-size manufacturers.”

At the same time, smaller manufacturers are “pressed for resources to combat that cyber threat,” Frost acknowledged.

The Cyber Hub for Manufacturing will serve as a testbed for the creation and adoption of new cybersecurity tech to secure manufacturing shop floors across the US, DMDII said. DMDII is one of the Manufacturing USA institutes sponsored by DOD to advance digital manufacturing in America.

UI LABS CEO Caralynn Collens

Since its founding four years ago, DMDII has built a network of hundreds of manufacturing organizations “in partnership with the US DoD and the leadership of 15 global industrial players who know that we need to lead this revolution to ensure that the US manufacturing base is safe and secure,” UI LABS CEO Caralynn Collens said. “We have the workforce and the tools needed to be the most competitive place in the world to make things.”

“We face tremendous competition, from China and elsewhere,” she said. “Countries are investing billions of dollars to develop digital manufacturing technologies. Still, the US is poised to come out on top—if we can adopt these advanced technologies and if we have the workforce that can’t be stopped.”

The threat of cyberattacks against the manufacturing sector is complex and growing, DMDII acknowledged. Manufacturers are connecting more equipment to the Internet to compile and analyze data to make better business decisions. With increased connectivity comes a higher likelihood of a breach, and a cyberattack on physical equipment threatens worker safety and the integrity of the products being deployed to users, such as a defect in a vehicle component.

DMDII’s work “is really about ensuring long-term economic sustainability for the US, said James Ray, president for global industrial at Stanley Engineered Fastening and executive officer of Stanley Black & Decker. His firm is an industry partner at DMDII.

James Ray, president for global industrial at Stanley Engineered Fastening and executive officer of Stanley Black & Decker

The 175-year-old company has “the vision to be $22 billion by the year 2022,” he said. “Our partnership with DMDII has been phenomenal from the start. We’re learning real-time every day. We get real-time data and real-time learnings and plow those right into our production facilities.”

The collaboration he experiences at the Chicago facility is very important, he added, “because it’s all about continuous improvement. That’s the root of competitiveness.”

Stanley Black & Decker has a “make where we sell philosophy,” Ray said. “Over the past 18-24 months, we have been on-shoring production from off shore. We’ve been investing in new manufacturing plants here in the US and we have been acquiring US companies to make them stronger.”

In addition to inviting its members to use its 24,000 square-foot manufacturing floor for experimentation, DMDII is set to develop “hands-on cybersecurity training programs and create online, on-demand learning modules to reach manufacturers outside of the region,” it said.

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