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Cognitive solutions for US manufacturing: A Q&A with MxD's newest board member

Nov. 11, 2020
"There are two reasons I am excited about smart, data-driven manufacturing."

Lockheed Martin Corporation's Linda Cadwell Stancin

MxD recently named new members to its board of directors with the goal of bolstering vision for the future of manufacturing and diversifying the board at this critical period in industry. The new additions are Jacky Wright, chief digital officer and corporate vice president, Microsoft US; and Linda Cadwell Stancin, director, emerging technologies, collaboration and innovation with Lockheed Martin Corporation.

“As the nation—and the world—continue to respond to and recover from the COVID pandemic, the importance of a thriving, secure, and efficient US manufacturing sector has never been clearer,” said MxD CEO Chandra Brown. “Jacky and Linda’s experience and passion in digital transformation and technology will help MxD strengthen its support for manufacturers to become more resilient and competitive.”

Here find a Q&A with Linda, who shares her perspective on cognitive solutions, the pandemic, and the future of data-driven manufacturing.

Smart Industry: What do you hope to accomplish on the MxD board?

Linda: I have a passion for the health of the US manufacturing workforce. US manufacturing competitiveness requires the ability to effectively implement valuable technologies at the speed of development. This means including the workforce in the innovation and optimization of technologies to make sure those new capabilities provide maximum value to the user. It also requires keeping the skills of our manufacturing workforce continuously ready to deploy new technologies.

We have an opportunity to share state of the art capabilities and digital transformation culture in a manner that maximizes belonging within the manufacturing community across the entire country. MxD is currently engaged with training workers to use digital and cyber secure technologies. I would like us to significantly increase training scope, rate, and content.

Smart Industry: How is the pandemic changing the development / application of manufacturing technologies?

Linda: The pandemic has accelerated and increased the scale of three major trends.

The first trend is local sourcing with right-sized, adapted products – for example, local additive or compression molded manufacturing of personal protective equipment or ventilator parts.

The second is implementing digital transformation to share data and knowledge and execute manufacturing and logistics. An example of this is sending designs and specifications directly to manufacturing and using augmented or virtual Reality to assist workers to perform tasks, enable quality inspectors to conduct remote inspection, and even expose care workers to what a patient with sensory and cognitive shifts might experience.

The third trend is the development of robotics and human machine assist particularly for jobs that are potential health or safety risks for humans. For instance, robots are disinfecting closed areas which may have COVID-19 exposure and delivering supplies within hospitals.

Smart Industry: What is meant by your work with "cognitive solutions"?

Linda: We spend a lot of time trying to find and sort data in many jobs, including manufacturing.  Cognitive solutions take digital transformation to the next level by integrating predictive trending and even artificial intelligence into our day-to-day decision making.

The realization of “intelligent” factories has enabled the implementation of machine learning to aid workflow optimization and equipment efficiency. Now we are seeing more applications in predicting product lifecycles and measuring market risk to enable better factory planning and scenario-based decision making.

The factory future state includes greater utilization of cognitive assistants to enable tighter integration of human experts with automation, resulting in improved optimization of manufacturing systems.

Smart Industry: What most excites you about smart, data-driven manufacturing in the coming years?

Linda: There are two reasons I am excited about smart, data-driven manufacturing:

The first is increased US competitiveness in manufacturing and the opportunity for the manufacturing workforce to make decisions in real time by being well informed with data at their fingertips and having cognitive assistance for predictive analysis.

The second is the critical need to reinvent our economy into an independent and sustainable model. With respect to sustainability, we need to be able to substitute materials and processes that are energy draining, hazardous, or require difficult-to-acquire substances with more sustainable options. The technology for energy alternatives to power manufacturing is “tech ready” and now must be made more affordable and manufacturing ready at scale utilizing digital transformation tech for distribution and maximum efficiency.

One of the emerging technology areas is the intersection of digital, biosynthesis, and advanced manufacturing. MxD enables the infrastructure and talent to test drive these technologies, while including the manufacturing workforce to optimize them for implementation.