Conrad Leiva

Director Ecosystem and Workforce Education, CESMII - The Smart Manufacturing Institute


[1] Workshop on Cyberinfrastructure in Chemical and Biological Process Systems: Impact and Directions, National Science Foundation, Davis, 2006

[2] Implementing 21st Century Smart Manufacturing, SM Leadership Coalition, 2011

[3] The German Standardization Roadmap for Industrie 4,0 Version 1.0, DKE German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE, 2014

[4] On the Journey to a Smart Manufacturing Revolution, IndustryWeek, Leiva, 2015

[5] Smart Manufacturing Landscape Explained, MESA International, 2016

[6] Standards Landscape for Smart Manufacturing, NIST, 2016

[7] Smart Manufacturing-Leveraging the Democratization of Innovation, CESMII, 2017

[8] The Smart Factory, Deloitte, 2017

[9] The Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index, Singapore Economic Development Board, 2017

Around 2005, connectivity, data, and computing power were advancing at Moore’s Law pace along with the Internet, eCommerce, social media, and smartphone platforms. The concept of cyberinfrastructure entered the vocabulary around that time.

The term Smart Manufacturing was coined in 2006 at a National Science Foundation workshop on Cyberinfrastructure [1]. It was called Smart Process Manufacturing at that time but was quickly shorten to Smart Manufacturing as the work evolved around the initial concepts.

At that time, the term cyberinfrastructure was being used in the context of implementing new applications that combined the power of data exchanges through networks that aggregate information about different facilities and locations with advances in data modeling and computational power. The NSF workshop outlined strategies for multi-scale dynamic modeling and simulation, large-scale optimization, sensor networks, data interoperability, requirements-driven security, and coined the term “Smart Plant”.

“The ‘Smart Plant’ is composed of ‘smart assets’ that not only provide their basic process function but provide proactive feedback on the economic, environment, health and safety performance of that asset in aggregation with the other assets and in the moment. Smart plants operate to tighter specifications and involve a much greater understanding of the processes, greater automation and decision support, expanded use of automation, data and data interpretation, and a new-generation workforce that is trained and oriented toward a knowledge and information mindshare.” [1]

In parallel, Germany was working on a similar initiative completely independently called Smart Factory, and a couple years after that, they renamed it Industrie 4.0. Both Smart Manufacturing and Industrie 4.0 have evolved in parallel. Industrie 4.0 has focused on cyber-physical systems while Smart Manufacturing has focused on highly connected information-driven manufacturing. There is a big overlap on both agendas, and we will continue to see parallel and joint efforts going forward.

In 2010, the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) gathered a group of over 50 industry leaders in a workshop to advance the development of the infrastructure and capabilities needed to deliver the full potential of Smart Manufacturing. The group documented goals for Smart Manufacturing in the report “Implementing 21st Century Smart Manufacturing” [2] along with challenges like affordability, usability, interoperability, customer integration, protection of proprietary data, and cyber security.

In 2014, the DKE/DIN Industrie 4.0 German Standardization Roadmap Version 1.0 [3] was published. The Germans stressed standardization as key to the success of the Industrie 4.0 initiative. The roadmap noted the importance of:

  • Integration of technical processes and business processes
  • Digital mapping and virtualization of the real world
  • The integration of data-enabled “smart” products with production systems
  • Extensive use of the internet

The roadmap defined cyber-physical systems in the plant as seamlessly integrating digital data from the physical production process and “smart” products into synchronized information systems that optimize the production workflow through simulation and analytical tools.

The German initiative is soon followed by similar industrial initiatives in other countries that took notice of the importance of advancing manufacturing in a global economy competition.

Between 2010 and 2016, early adopting manufacturers in the U.S. continued to advance the implementation of Smart Manufacturing techniques. Organizations including the Manufacturing Enterprise Systems Association (MESA), the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), and the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), brought together manufacturers, consultants, technology vendors, and academia to accelerate the implementation and document the practices and progress in Smart Manufacturing. [4]

Manufacturers implementing Smart Manufacturing are not just reducing cost, they are implementing technology-enabled business models and turning traditional factories from cost centers into profitable innovation centers through the integration of technologies including:

  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Smart machines and collaborative robotics
  • Cloud and edge computing
  • Enterprise integration and API management platforms
  • A2A and B2B standards for multi-vendor interoperability
  • Big data processing and predictive analytics capabilities

In 2016, MESA International published the report “Smart Manufacturing Landscape Explained” [5] and NIST published the paper “Standards Landscape for Smart Manufacturing” [6].

In 2016, CESMII—the U.S. Smart Manufacturing Institute—was formed as one of multiple Manufacturing USA institutes focused on bringing together industry, academia, and federal partners to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and promote a robust and sustainable national manufacturing R&D infrastructure. CESMII was established with a mission to radically accelerate Smart Manufacturing technologies adoption including advanced sensors, controls, platforms, and optimization models. The CESMII Roadmap for Smart Manufacturing was published in 2017 [7].

By 2017, Smart Manufacturing has gained wider adoption. Trade organizations and consulting firms were documenting success stories and practices as in the report by Deloitte titled “The Smart Factory” [8]. Consulting organizations also started publishing guidance like the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index [9] to help manufacturers assess their business practices and establish roadmaps towards higher levels of Smart Manufacturing adoption.

Smart Manufacturing was recognized as including vertical and horizontal integration of connectivity, intelligence, workforce, and automation across multiple dimensions of business processes including product lifecycle, operations, and supply chain.

Today, Smart Manufacturing technologies and practices have matured but the adoption has not crossed the chasm and moved beyond the early adopters into the early majority for wide adoption in the ecosystem. It is necessary to move to the next stage of adoption—the democratization of Smart Manufacturing.