Written by Conrad Leiva, CESMII’s Vice President of Ecosystem & Workforce Development, this paper summarizes the practices that define smart manufacturing as developed by the industry leaders, early adopters, and expert practitioners working in the ecosystem at CESMII. It will further explain how the Seven Principles of Smart Manufacturing work collectively to achieve new levels of connectivity, intelligence and automation in the manufacturing ecosystem.

The concept of smart manufacturing has been evolving for a decade among leading manufacturers, expert practitioners and consortia organizations like CESMII–the U.S. Smart Manufacturing Institute. Along the way, ideas that sound similar have emerged but have lacked clarity in terminology, definition and goals. The industry now needs to agree on a set of guiding principles to accelerate the next phase—the democratization of smart manufacturing.

To democratize innovation, it is necessary to democratize the technology and the knowledge required to implement the solutions and strategies. The CESMII consortium is working on both dimensions and recently published an updated definition and guiding principles for smart manufacturing as a foundation for the work ahead.

CESMII defines smart manufacturing as the information-driven, event-driven, efficient and collaborative orchestration of business, physical and digital processes within plants and across the value chain.

In smart manufacturing, organizations, people and technology work in synergy via processes and technology-based solutions that implement seven first principles:

  1. Smart manufacturing is secure. It provides broad, secure connectivity among devices, processes, people and businesses in the ecosystem, securing data integrity, protecting intellectual property, shielding against cyberattacks and maintaining business continuity.
  2. Smart manufacturing is flat and done in real time. Resources and processes are digitally integrated, monitored and continuously evaluated for near-real-time insights across a flattened organization structure and value chain with more autonomy and faster, decentralized decisions.
  3. Smart manufacturing is proactive and semi-autonomous. It moves beyond static dashboards and reporting practices to proactive, predictive and semi-autonomous processes that act on insights—triggering automated decisions in routine situations and personnel intervention in non-routine situations.
  4. Smart manufacturing is open and interoperable. It enables a connected ecosystem of devices, systems, people, services and partners communicating in a natural yet structured manner. Smart manufacturing works across on-premise, edge and cloud-computing platforms, exchanging information with broad adoption of integration standards and APIs that enable multi-vendor, plug-&-play solutions.
  5. Smart manufacturing is orchestrated and resilient. It adapts to schedule and product changes with minimal intervention, easy reconfiguration and optimized process and material flows. It is quick to react to changes in demand, resilient to disruption and capable of maintaining business continuity through adaptability, modularity and minimal redundancy.
  6. Smart manufacturing is scalable across all functions, facilities and the entire value chain. It means cost and performance grow linearly—not exponentially—as load and complexities increase. Systems and resources are added, modified or removed with ease to accommodate changing demands.
  7. Smart manufacturing is sustainable and energy efficient. This happens through processes and systems that optimize use of resources, minimize negative environmental impacts and maximize positive socio-economic outcomes.

When all these design principles are considered, the organization realizes traditional performance improvement benefits, as well as more strategic benefits, including transparency, speed, collaboration, agility, innovation and resiliency.