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Determined to pull U.S. out of state of ‘pilot purgatory’

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

John Dyck, the CEO of CESMII (the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute), doesn’t mince words, and for that manufacturers in the U.S. owe him a debt of gratitude.

“We’re not seeing a big uptake of smart manufacturing, digital transformation projects beyond the pilot phase,” he said (see story at “Why is that? Well, these vendors can bring their domain experts to the table to solve a difficult use case, but when they attempt to scale that to the broader plant, or to the enterprise, they quickly run into the same headwinds that have stymied their efforts in the past two decades. The cost and complexity of these manufacturing solutions is still prohibitive, leaving the industry in a state of pilot purgatory.”

The U.S. is “at risk of falling behind both Europe and Asia in terms of our smart manufacturing digital transformation journey,” Dyck said.

“Most folks would agree that Industry 4.0 across Europe and initiatives like Made in China 2025 in Asia have really galvanized manufacturers in Europe and Asia to invest and work on their transformation strategies. We don’t have that here.”

Manufacturing USA represents the U.S. government’s biggest investment in the digitization of manufacturing to date. CESMII is one of 14 Manufacturing USA institutes.

While commendable, Manufacturing USA is hamstrung by its strong focus on research and development.

Under Dyck’s leadership for the last 19 months, CESMII is assuming a much-needed, speed-of-business leadership role.

Job One for CESMII, he added, is to convince U.S. manufacturers to get additional support from Uncle Sam. “It’s no small feat to convince manufacturers across the country to accept additional support from the federal government, but a public/private partnership is essential,” he said. “We’re working ... with some of our biggest manufacturing members to stand upon a very visible soapbox and tell the country, ‘Listen, we have to get going! We can’t afford not to invest. We can’t afford to fall behind’.”

CESMII is set to soon gather manufacturing firms of all stripes and “senior political personnel” to “communicate with one voice to the country: ‘We are absolutely at risk of falling behind unless we drive forward. Smart manufacturing is vital for this country’,” said CESMII’s Mike Yost.

CESMII’s work to galvanize manufacturers in the U.S. is gold. Invest in it.

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