U.S. manufacturing in general, and small- and medium-sized manufacturers in particular, are in danger of being left behind as Europe and Asia move faster toward Industry 4.0, John Dyck, CEO of the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), told congressional staff, federal agency staff in a February briefing.
CESMII is the national institute on smart manufacturing focused on democratizing smart manufacturing to enable innovation at scale for all U.S. manufacturers.
“One of the most important messages is the notion that we have a crisis on our hands with the lack of ability for the small and medium manufacturers to engage in the smart manufacturing space,” Dyck said in an interview after the briefing.
Another key problem is what he referred to as “islands of innovation,” which he blamed on vendor-centric applications that may solve an important problem as proof of concept but are frequently too complex and costly to deploy at scale.
“Pilots are being started every day,” he said. “But scaling across the plant and the enterprise is difficult to do well. The Fortune 1,000 (which includes only 0.8 percent of manufacturers) is suffering from the same sort of challenges. They are fortunate enough to be able to afford to spend far more than they should have to in order to build solutions they can’t scale to the rest of their organization. Small and medium manufacturers can’t afford to begin this journey. Innovation at scale is the focus of our institute and the focus of what we believe has to happen in this country for manufacturing to be more competitive and more productive.”
Generally, 80 percent of the cost and time of most smart manufacturing initiatives is building data collection infrastructure. That final 20 percent is what manufacturers need to focus on: creating value, Dyck said.
CESMII can help, he said, by:
Reducing the 80 percent infrastructure cost closer to 10 percent or 20 percent.
Enabling crowd sourcing and digitization of domain experience and building repeatable platforms that work for all manufacturers.
Opening the market for vendors to scale their offerings outside the Fortune 1,000 to the remaining 99 percent of manufacturers.
Dyck asked for federal help in raising CESMII’s profile among manufacturers, he said, noting that many don’t yet know about it or the Manufacturing USA initiative.