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The funding will be split across three projects focused on enhancing dynamic scheduling and optimization, cybersecurity, and digital twin technology within distributed manufacturing setups.
“These projects reflect the diversity of tactical approaches and technical advancement needed for a digital manufacturing and cybersecurity revolution,” said Chandra Brown, CEO of MxD.
“By combining the support of the Department of Defense with the ingenuity of MxD’s industry and academic partners, we’ll make significant leaps forward in addressing the challenges manufacturers face today when making the jump to digital.”
Strengthening US manufacturing
MxD works in partnership with the DoD to equip US factories with the digital tools, cybersecurity, and workforce expertise they need to improve their manufacturing operations. The organization has helped more than 300 partners to increase their productivity and has been designated the National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing by the DoD.
MxD has increased its focus on facilitating the adoption of additive manufacturing over the past year, having received funding from the FDA’s Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats (OCET) last December for medical 3D printing research projects.
Using the investment, MxD is working with industry partners to garner a better understanding of the regulatory roadblocks preventing medical firms from adopting additive manufacturing. The research program is being carried out alongside the International Academy of Automation Engineering (IAAE) and is also focusing on the everyday regulation of 3D printed medical devices.
Dynamic Production Scheduling and Optimization
The first of the new projects launched by MxD will focus on implementing and validating real-time, dynamic scheduling and optimization technologies that can provide manufacturers with actionable insights into plant scheduling.
As manufacturing environments become increasingly complex, scheduling systems need to be able to respond to unexpected changes and disruptions, such as machine downtime or manpower shortages. MxD is releasing a Request for Proposals for the development of a guidebook that will support manufacturers in choosing and deploying real-time scheduling technologies and gauging their return on investment (ROI).
Participants in the project will help to advance manufacturing domain knowledge concerning real-time scheduling tools, and gain an understanding of the benefits of implementing them for their manufacturing processes.
Proposals for the project must be submitted to MxD by 5pm CT on Thursday, 4th November.
Security Solutions for OT Factory Equipment
The next project announced by MxD is seeking to develop a step-by-step guide for achieving proper cybersecurity measures on connected manufacturing floors. The aim of the project is to ramp up the availability and adoption of cybersecurity tools within digital manufacturing environments in order to protect both new and legacy factory equipment.
As more and more digital manufacturing technologies become available to manufacturers to increase the efficiencies of their operations, companies are under increasing pressure to make sure their operational technology (OT) is connected on the factory floor. As such, there is a need to develop cybersecurity tools capable of keeping OT equipment secure without interrupting operations.
Project participants will create an easily understandable guide that can help manufacturers to understand what cybersecurity tools they may need and how to implement such measures within their factories.
Proposals for the project must be submitted by 5pm CT on Thursday, 18th November.
Virtual Interaction with Supply Chain Using Digital Twins
The third and final project launched with MxD’s funding will look to demonstrate the interaction of digital twins across the manufacturing supply chain. Digital twins are intangible replicas of physical assets, processes, and devices, produced by a network of connected devices exchanging data.
Within 3D printing, digital twins are being increasingly deployed across various sectors to aid users in better assessing productive output optimization, part quality, and potential issues in the printing process, among other things. While a digital twin operating in isolation is useful, MxD is seeking to evolve the technology by connecting digital twins across organizations within a supply chain and integrate them with each other.
The project will explore three types of relationships between digital twins: hierarchical, where they can be grouped together into increasingly complex assemblies; Associational, where one twin is connected to another in a different system; and Peer-to-peer, for similar or identical equipment or systems working together.
Project participants will demonstrate the interaction of digital twins across two distinct parts of the supply chain to determine the challenges that may arise as the new technology platform is rolled out.
Proposals for the project must be submitted by 5pm on Thursday, 2nd December.
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Featured image shows two engineers walking through a manufacturing facility. Photo via MxD.