25 Leaders Transforming Manufacturing: 3 From Manufacturing USA Institutes

Collaboration, Composites, Innovation, Lightweight Materials, Manufacturing, Robotics

The need for leadership in smart manufacturing cannot be overstated: Making revolutionary changes can be arduous. But the leaders who have emerged in this industry show us it can also be exhilarating. To assemble this group of luminaries, Smart Manufacturing took into account the fact that big change is happening inside large corporations, startups, public-private partnerships, and standards organizations.

The 3 from Manufacturing USA institutes are:

John Hopkins Photo

John A. Hopkins, CEO, IACMI–The Composites Institute

Hopkins and his collaborators at the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation could have set up a booth at IMTS 2018 with informational literature about membership. Instead, they set up a small factory in the convention center. There, they demonstrated the use of equipment at different exhibits to 3D-print a metal die for a motorcycle part, machine it on a multi-axis CNC, use the tool to compression-mold the component and finally laser scan the part for dimensional consistency. “The demo of additive manufacturing for a rapid path to actual fiber-reinforced polymer part production at IMTS highlighted several key benefits provided by smart manufacturing: connectivity across processes, shared data, flexible allowance for different material needs and closing the loop for qualifying physical part dimensions,” Hopkins said. The demonstration is one of several key accomplishments at IACMI, the Manufacturing USA institute that focuses on cost-competitive fiber-reinforced polymers that can be produced at high rate or volume for vehicles, wind turbines and compressed gas storage, along with the use of full-field imaging for non-destructive evaluation of in-line process control of carbon fiber manufacturing and physics-enabled design optimization.


Nigel Francis photo

Nigel Francis, CEO & Executive Director, LIFT

The stakes could not be much higher for Francis and his organization, which is partnered with the Department of Defense and a part of Manufacturing USA. “Smarter manufacturing—which at LIFT we describe as the connection between materials, processes and systems—is critical for our nation because we believe the nation or region that masters it first will be the next global industrial and economic powerhouse,” said Francis, who is at the center in the photo below. Many large manufacturers have already adopted smarter manufacturing principles, so the challenge lies in educating and supporting the small and medium-sized companies that are LIFT’s focus, he noted. “They need to know what smarter manufacturing entails, but they also need to know and implement the digital twin and distributed manufacturing and, most importantly, what smart technologies and processes can impact their specific situation and how they work together to impact their bottom line,” he said. To accomplish that, LIFT has developed an ecosystem to connect government, industry and academia to drive American manufacturing into the future with technology and talent, including “mom and pop” shops that could otherwise be left behind.

Ira Moskowitz photo

Ira Moskowitz, CEO, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute

Moskowitz believes the United States can’t maintain its leadership in innovation by continuing to offshore production. “In many cases, the knowledge that we gain by manufacturing the products leads us to develop the next generation of innovations—because we learn so much about the products by making them ourselves,” he said. “Maintaining a strong, smart manufacturing base domestically is important to our nation’s economy, its competitiveness, and its security.” In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has made it clear to Moskowitz, and many others, that a smart manufacturing capability is critical to our nation’s resilience in the face of unexpected supply-chain disruptions. Moskowitz, who spent 30 years in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, is staking his career on smart manufacturing. For almost a year, he has led the robotics-focused institute for Manufacturing USA. “Through this national consortium, we have accomplished dozens of projects to make robotics, autonomy and AI more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower a smart manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness and elevate our national security and resilience,” he said.