March 20, 2018

Just over four years ago, the official launch of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) took place at the White House, with great fanfare and at least one reference to Iron Man.

Last week, elected officials, Department of Defense representatives, and more than 100 supporters gathered at the UI LABS Innovation Center to mark this anniversary and add a new cybersecurity component to DMDII’s mission: helping U.S. manufacturers make every part better than the last.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Mike Quigley, Gov. Bruce Rauner, and Alderman Walter Burnett were on hand to tour the manufacturing lab, including DMDII’s experimental “Future Factory” and McKinsey’s Digital Capability Center. These modular factory lines build a Stanley Black & Decker impact driver and a refrigerator compressor to demonstrate how digital technologies can be integrated into manufacturing processes to save time and money, increase safety, and boost productivity.

James Ray, Global Industrial President for the STANLEY Engineered Fastening business, acknowledged the DMDII network as a critical part of Stanley Black & Decker’s innovation strategy. “Our partnership with DMDII has been phenomenal from the start,” he said. “We’re learning real-time every day. We get real-time data and real-time learnings and plow those right into our production facilities.”

UI LABS Chief Business Officer Paul Seeman guides Governor Bruce Rauner on a tour of DMDII’s manufacturing floor.

Against the backdrop of American, Illinois, and Chicago flags, and the phrase “Manufacturing American jobs” emblazoned on the factory wall, the speakers championed the economic impact of advanced manufacturing and the imperative to compete with outsized investments of other global players. The need for the public and private sectors to collaborate in this effort, as exemplified by DMDII and the other national institutes within the Manufacturing USA network, also arose as a central theme.

To build upon the success of the institute’s framework, project portfolio, and consortium of more than 300 partners, Tracy Frost, Director of DOD Manufacturing Institutes and Acting Director of DOD Manufacturing Technology, announced the launch of a Cyber Hub for Manufacturing at DMDII with $750,000 in seed funding from DOD.

“Congratulations on the partnership with DOD on cybersecurity,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, whose congressional district includes most of Goose Island where UI LABS is located. “As a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, [I know] it is needed. These are going to be challenging times, and we’re going to have to partner with the public and private sector.”

DMDII’s Cyber Hub for Manufacturing will serve as a testbed for the creation and adoption of new cybersecurity technologies to secure manufacturing shop floors across the United States. It will test use cases in a real-world manufacturing environment, develop hands-on cybersecurity training programs, and create online learning modules to reach manufacturers outside of the region.

Reflecting on DMDII’s milestone and continued work ahead, UI LABS Chief Executive Officer Caralynn Collens gave credit to DMDII’s supportive community and its unique role within the ecosystem.

“The UI LABS model brings out the best of Chicago and the surrounding region for the betterment of the nation,” she said. “Our elected officials, corporate partners, and academic luminaries are behind us for a reason: We find creative solutions to industry problems by bringing together players who would never collaborate on their own. I’m excited to bring this model to bear on cybersecurity for manufacturing.”