Smart Manufacturing Institute On the Move Through Los Angeles Partnership

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces the partnership moving the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute to WeWork spaces. (photos courtesy Mayor’s Office)

Founded two years ago, the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) was a culmination of political willpower from local, state and federal governments, universities and the private sector — with over $140 million in investments from the partnership.

“Smart Manufacturing is an unprecedented exploitation of data into real-time actions that changes the manufacturing industry with ever advancing data and information technologies not unlike what has happened in other industries like Amazon, TrueCar, etc. and how we buy products; ATM and mobile banking; Uber and Lyft ride share services, Airbnb for room sharing,” said Jim Davis, UCLA Vice Provost of Information Technology and co-founder of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition that was awarded CESMII. “What does next generation digitalized manufacturing look like?”

Nearing the eve of its two-year anniversary, CESMII partners announced that the national headquarters will finally move out of its interim location at the UCLA campus, and into the private spaces across the city that are operated by WeWork in Century City.

Davis said, “Following a year of startup, CESMII has kicked into operation as the fulltime staff has grown to 15. There are a 100 member companies and institutions, with West, South and North Regional Manufacturing Centers working across the U.S., and the first $10 million in funded projects are already underway in a cross-sector of industries to do first-of-a-kind R&D.”

WeWork’s entrepreneurial spirit fits CESMII well and that is why they donated office space as part of their partnership with City of LA and CESMII, officials said. There are approximately 16 WeWork facilities around the Los Angeles area alone. CESMII has been building relations with LA-based initiatives including the Youth Policy Institute and LA Clean Tech Incubator — all of which come together in partnerships for innovation and impact. “The mayor’s office is interested in economic development, clean technology, data and information technology, innovations, education and opportunity,” Davis added.

“Los Angeles is where we turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s technology,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “WeWork is helping accelerate this incredible era of innovation — and this announcement reflects the power of public-private partnerships to grow our economy and create jobs. This is a smart investment in our future, and I look forward to seeing the breakthroughs that emerge from the new CESMII headquarters.”

Partnering with WeWork will allow CESMII to branch out into many different parts of Los Angeles and expand its impact.

CESMII is all about one big question, What if the right data were in the right form for the right people, the right technology and the right operations whenever and wherever needed throughout the manufacturing enterprise?

The question was important enough to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness that the Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored a national Manufacturing USA Institute to address the question and work with industry nationwide to research and implement the results.

DOE’s energy interest stems not only from the fact that manufacturing represents about a third of the total energy usage in the U.S., but also from a global standpoint, today’s energy consumption is not sustainable as the population grows and demands increase.

CESMII takes on the question of whether we can make things better, faster, cheaper, safely and with less impact on the environment — better in terms of product precision and products customized for use or purpose; faster, more responsive to demand and with greater productivity throughout the supply chain; and cheaper in terms of performance and better use of materials, energy, water and operations which go to economics, safety and environmental impact. 

This requires thinking big and small at the same time. “A really good example is a box of Cheerios,” Davis said. “Consumers not only want different flavors that taste good, but they want to know that the Cheerios are gluten-free, GMO-free, free of any contaminants and pesticides — and still fresh. To be able to ensure that, and to be able to track that box all the way back to the farm that produced the oats, it takes a lot of data and advanced technology up and down the supply chain”.

At the micro-level, each Cheerio needs to conform to a shape, flavor and consistency regardless of wide variations in the oats. This requires advanced sensing, controls, modeling and precision recipe management and manufacturing. New AI and machine learning technologies make it possible to think about manufacturing in brand new ways, such as listening to product quality while a product is being made or using high speed cameras and image recognition technologies to watch quality. Expansive network technologies make it possible to monitor and optimize an entire supply chain.

“The same macro- and micro-management of data at the right time, place, and form is true for any product and industry: metal, plastic, composite glass materials, parts and assemblies, chemicals, gasoline, microelectronics, pharmaceuticals, etc. When done right, productivity goes way up and energy and material use and environmental impacts go way down”, Davis said, “which is what CESMII is all about as it helps the U.S. move into a smarter, new future”.

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