Smart Manufacturing Coalition-led Project Wins DOE Clean Energy Manufacturing Contract

The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) today announced that it won a 2013 Clean Energy Manufacturing contract to start developing the nation’s first open smart manufacturing technology platform for collaborative industrial networked information applications. The innovative $10 million project, led by the SMLC, will receive $7.8 million in funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Program.

“Together, we intend to transform industrial productivity and energize a new era of innovation by empowering manufacturers with real-time, plant-wide workflow intelligence needed to deliver higher levels of game-changing competitiveness,” said Dean Bartles, SMLC Chairman and SVP, General Dynamics. “Smart Manufacturing infrastructures and approaches will also let operators make real-time use of ‘big data’ flows from fully-instrumented plants to improve safety, environmental impact and energy, water and materials use."

The overall objectives of the initial SMLC project are to design and demonstrate this common platform that enables data modeling and simulation technologies to actively manage energy use in conjunction with plant production systems. The platform will show how real-time management of energy use as a key driver in business decisions can be applied across many small, medium and large U.S. manufacturing companies.

“For the past two decades, most U.S. manufacturers have managed energy efficiency in their factories and plants passively instead of actively as part of their production systems,” said R. Neal Elliott, Director of Research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and a coalition board member. His research estimates that “We can reduce U.S. manufacturing energy intensity by more than half in the next 20 years as we begin to integrate smart technologies that actively manage energy use across entire manufacturing systems, plants and ultimately supply chains.”

The SMLC’s Platform development approach uses industrial test beds with actual manufacturing data and applications to ensure it is driven by industry needs. The first two test beds funded by the DOE Clean Energy Manufacturing contract will be at a General Dynamics Army Munitions plant to optimize heat treating furnaces and at a Praxair Hydrogen Processing plant to optimize steam methane reforming furnaces. The test bed project technologies could demonstrate how to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive by reducing annual generation of CO2 emissions by 69 million tons, and waste heat by 1.3 quads, or approximately 1.3 percent of total U.S. energy use.