Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute announces $12 million in applied R&D awards

May 12, 2016

The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), a UI LABS collaboration, recently announced that it has issued seven national applied-research, development and demonstration awards. These projects address several digital-manufacturing and design topics, including augmented reality for use on manufacturing shop floors and on wearable and mobile devices.

“We are excited to continue to advance applied R&D within our core technology focus areas,” said Dr. Dean Bartles, chief manufacturing officer of UI LABS and executive director of DMDII. “With each project call, we bring additional researchers, global industry leaders and small companies into our consortium and move closer to making technologies related to ‘smart manufacturing’ and ‘brilliant factory’ applicable to manufacturers across the country.”

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The projects involving augmented reality (AR), Manufacturing Work Instructions on Wearable and Mobile Devices with Augmented Reality, led by the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Authoring Augmented Reality Work Instructions by Expert Demonstration, led by Iowa State University, reflect the tremendous potential that AR holds as related technologies transition from consumer applications to the industrial sector.

“Our project will enable the creation of instructions for an augmented reality-based training system that mimic the actual part-manipulations of an expert,” said Eliot Winer, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University. “This project builds upon successful research from our project team, which we anticipate turning into real-world applications for manufacturers through the perspective provided by our industry partners.”

Embedding visual instructions in an individual’s environment through projection, wearable elements, or handheld devices can reduce training time and errors at multiple stages of the manufacturing process. AR also allows companies to redeploy experts to other tasks rather than time-consuming training sessions.

“A critical element to driving manufacturing competitiveness is delivering work instructions to our skilled workforce,” said Craig Sutton, manager of Advanced Manufacturing at Deere & Company. “Given the amount of complexity that this workforce manages, written instructions remain a challenging medium. A tool like augmented reality will enable us to improve our productivity and quality measures in our operations.”

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DMDII’s projects bring together teams with expertise in a variety of manufacturing disciplines and include major multinational corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), government entities, and university researchers. Each project is managed by a lead organization that coordinates work among other organizations on the team. For example, Iowa State University is spearheading a project that includes Purdue University, John Deere, Boeing, Daqri, and Design Mill. Facilitating connections among its diverse consortium to create unique solutions is an important aspect of the UI LABS process.

DMDII’s seven new contract awards are:

Manufacturing Work Instructions on Wearable and Mobile Devices with Augmented Reality (Lead: Rochester Institute of Technology)

Authoring Augmented Reality Work Instructions by Expert Demonstration (Lead: Iowa State University) 

FactBoard: Real-Time Data-Driven Visual Decision Support System for the Factory Floor (Lead: Iowa State University)

Elastic Cloud-Based Make: Supply Chain Configuration Use Case (Lead: GE Global Research)

SPEC-OPS: Standards-based Platform for Enterprise Communication enabling Optimal Production and Self-awareness (Lead: Palo Alto Research Center)

Automated Manufacturability Analysis Software “ANA” (Lead: Iowa State University) 

Integrated Manufacturing Variation Management (Lead: Caterpillar Inc.) 

Information about these and other DMDII projects can be found here.


More information about the Smart Industry 2016 conference, which features a tour of the DMDII facility along with presentations on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and industrial manufacturing, can be found here.