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Smart manufacturing project could halve energy intensity in the US

29 March, 2013

A group of US organisations including Rockwell, Honeywell, Invensys and Emerson has won $7.8m of Government funding for a $10m project to develop an “open smart manufacturing technology platform for collaborative industrial networked information applications”.

Under the umbrella of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), the companies aim to design and demonstrate a platform that enables data-modelling and simulation technologies to manage energy use actively in conjunction with plant production systems. The platform will allow real-time management of energy to be applied to manufacturers of all sizes.

“Together, we intend to transform industrial productivity and energise a new era of innovation by empowering manufacturers with real-time, plant-wide workflow intelligence needed to deliver higher levels of game-changing competitiveness,” says SMLC chairman, Dean Bartles. “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.”

“For the past two decades, most US manufacturers have managed energy efficiency in their factories and plants passively instead of actively as part of their production systems,” adds Neal Elliott, director of research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and an SMLC board member. His research indicates that manufacturing energy intensity in the US could be more than halved over the next 20 years as companies start to integrate smart technologies that manage energy use actively across entire manufacturing systems, plants and ultimately supply chains.

The SMLC project will use industrial testbeds with actual manufacturing data and applications. The first two testbeds, funded by the US Department of Energy contract, will involve optimising heat-treating furnaces at a munitions plant and optimising steam methane reforming furnaces at a hydrogen processing plant. 




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