ISSACS to lead a Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center in Cleveland

DOE-funded center to help small- and medium-sized companies adopt advanced manufacturing technologies

A federal institute for smart manufacturing has selected the Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected Systems (ISSACS) at Case Western Reserve University to lead a Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center (SMIC) in Cleveland.

The Cleveland SMIC will focus on helping small- and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) adopt smart manufacturing technologies.

Adopting smart manufacturing—also known as “Industry 4.0”—is critical for manufacturers to stay relevant in an increasingly connected and global economy. Smart manufacturing is a broad term that describes a technology-driven approach that uses internet-connected machinery to monitor production, automate operations and use data analytics for more efficient and safe manufacturing.

The Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute (CESMII), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is accelerating the adoption of smart manufacturing by integrating advanced sensors and data platforms to radically improve manufacturing. The goal: to reduce changeover time (converting a machine from running one product line to another) and scrap, increase worker safety and make equipment more effective. SMICs are regional extensions of CESMII.

Over 70% of all manufacturing workers in the United States are employed by an SMM; Northeast Ohio has more than 7,000 SMMs, according to Team NEO, a business and economic development organization focused on job creation throughout Northeast Ohio. Manufacturing continues to be critical to Ohio’s economy, employing more than 640,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

While many large manufacturers have been adopting smart manufacturing for years, many other SMMs have barely begun the transition. SMMs often have limited technical staff and limited capital budgets, rendering many existing smart manufacturing solutions either too technically challenging or too expensive.

Nick Barendt in blue shirt with arms folded across chest
Nick Barendt

“Addressing these limitations requires a multi-pronged approach, from building awareness, to education at all levels, and the development of new, innovative “right-sized” smart manufacturing solutions,” said Nick Barendt, executive director of ISSACS, who will direct the Cleveland SMIC. “This SMIC project is a direct result of years of collaboration between academia and the public and private sectors in Northeast Ohio.”

“Our new SMICs will extend the CESMII network geographically and enhance our ability to reach manufacturers of all sizes,” said CESMII CEO, John Dyck. “The voice of small and medium-sized manufacturers is extremely important to deliver on our goal of democratizing Smart Manufacturing. We’re excited to partner with a world-class university like Case Western Reserve University and ISSACS as another channel for those manufacturers to have their voices heard.”

The Cleveland SMIC brings together Case Western Reserve faculty, including Kenneth Loparo, professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering and faculty director of ISSACS, and James McGuffin-Cawley, professor of Materials Science and Engineering and faculty director of Sears think[box]), and the IoT Collaborative, a partnership between CWRU and Cleveland State University focused on the Industrial Internet of Things. Barendt is also co-executive director of the IOTC.

Team NEO’s Smart Manufacturing Cluster will lead the engagement and smart manufacturing assessment efforts of the SMIC, working with Bennit AI, a company building artificial intelligence solutions for manufacturing.  MAGNET, the National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership organization for Greater Cleveland, will lead smart manufacturing implementations for SMMs.

Smart manufacturing demonstrations will be housed within Sears think[box] at CWRU, constructed with the support of Advanced Manufacturing International. “The SMIC is a great example of the regional collaboration we’ve seen in building the Manufacturing Blueprint, bringing together academia with the public and private sectors to move the region forward,” said MAGNET CEO Ethan Karp.

* This press release was reproduced from today's issue of The Daily.  For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at