UCLA is the new home of the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the $140 million national institute leading the transformation of the manufacturing industry for U.S. competitiveness and energy productivity through the power of data.

CESMII is focused on advanced data and modeling technologies, including AI and machine learning; using data securely within factories and across supply chains; developing the new workforce to use and innovate with data; and getting tools and skills in the hands of everyone.

In 2006, UCLA was among the founding institutions of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, which started the national movement in smart manufacturing, and the campus was instrumental in developing the proposal that led to the creation of CESMII in 2017. CESMII’s national headquarters is located in Los Angeles through a partnership with the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles and WeWork, the shared office space operator.

“CESMII has been established to build U.S. global competitiveness with next generation data-centered manufacturing and a data-savvy workforce,” said Jim Davis, the institute’s principal investigator and UCLA’s vice provost of information technology. “Its goal is to transform manufacturing to use data whenever and wherever it is needed to radically improve supply chain productivity and precision and dramatically reduce the use of energy and materials and environmental impacts while improving safety. This will require addressing cyber security. These are big goals that align with the public mission of UCLA, and with the convergence of information technology, energy and climate and manufacturing in Los Angeles and California.”

Led by UCLA, CESMII supports projects through regional smart manufacturing innovation centers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Texas A&M University and UCLA. In its first wave of funding, the institute provided about $16 million in public–private funding to more than a dozen projects in the steel, oil and gas, aerospace, metals fabrication and cement industries. Among them are several projects in California that involve UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego, as well as faculty and researchers at the University of Southern California, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, El Camino College, California State University Northridge and private industry.

As part of UCLA’s expanded leadership role in CESMII, the institute also recently hired CEO John Dyck, who has extensive experience in smart manufacturing.

“We have a unique mandate from the federal government to drive the revitalization of manufacturing, and with the people we have at the institute, the support of UCLA and the other CESMII members, we believe we have a unique ability to accomplish this audacious objective,” Dyck said. “In helping all companies with smart manufacturing technologies and knowledge, CESMII strengthens the entire manufacturing value chain across the nation, leading to improved business performance and new jobs.”

According to Dyck, CESMII intends to produce a smart manufacturing platform that will create infrastructure and standards for data collection and modeling orchestration to make it easy for anyone to put manufacturing data into action to drive value.

“The best analogy is a smartphone,” Dyck explained. “It’s become a relatively simple thing for people who aren’t developers to build an app, thanks to the standard platform and tremendous number of tools available. We’re poised to do the same thing for manufacturing, but with apps that can connect to devices and be orchestrated together to build new functionalities.

“What is new and different is that we are focused first on the data and how it is collected, interpreted and used. The platform, apps and tools are all built to use, manage and model data.”

CSEMII is tapping the value of widespread industrial knowledge and expertise, crowdsourcing solutions and developing ways for manufacturers to share their expertise.

For example, many manufacturers use the same devices and equipment. But typically only large manufacturers can afford to hire experts who know how to find and analyze the relevant data points from those devices. That means only those manufactures can afford to pinpoint preventive maintenance needs, while small manufacturers must wait until the equipment fails before they make repairs.

“We’re making it possible for one smart person anywhere in the industrial ecosystem to build a digital profile on how to use data that includes how to connect to the device or system or robot and define for everyone which data points to collect,” Dyck said. “That opens the door for other smart people to apply a machine-learning model to predict the need for maintenance — and then use the CESMII platform to make it available to everyone.”  

Davis said information and data technologies have already transformed industries like banking, health care, entertainment and transportation.

“Manufacturing is ready,” he said. “With more than 100 industry, university and government institutional members and growing, CESMII brings the public–private partnerships together on a national scale to shape manufacturing’s transformation. With manufacturing using roughly one-third of the nation’s energy, increasing our nation’s manufacturing productivity and precision can raise profitability, make better energy and material usage, and protect the environment.”