Smart Manufacturing Will Transform US Industry

July 31, 2014 By Karen Henry

ACEEE Energy ManageSmart manufacturing—the integration of all facets of manufacturing through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT)—is set to transform the industrial sector and its use of energy, raw materials and labor over the next 20 years. A new report issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) examines energy savings opportunities in the industrial sector that are made possible by smart manufacturing.

The report, “The Energy Savings Potential of Smart Manufacturing,” is designed to show businesses leaders, utility program administrators and energy managers how to make US manufacturing more energy efficient, productive and competitive. It identifies the components of smart manufacturing, defines terms and connects those terms with the potential to manage and save energy in a new and innovative way.

By integrating devices and systems in a network empowered with predictive and anticipatory capabilities, the industrial sector will be able to realize savings from manufacturing equipment, systems, processes and facilities. These same capabilities also have the potential to simplify and automate the evaluation, measurement and validation of energy savings, which in turn will create new opportunities for firms to realize value from utility demand response and energy efficiency programs.

However, before smart manufacturing can transform the industrial sector the cost must come down, ACEEE said. That will require the adoption of common communication and network protocols and standards. It will also require improved data security and appropriately trained workers who know how to develop and use smart manufacturing tools. Fortunately, industry and government are coming together in efforts to address the details and develop new frameworks that will enable easier and broader adoption of smart manufacturing.

Because smart manufacturing puts more power in businesses’ hands to reduce their costs, its widespread adoption is almost assured, ACEEE predicts. In a few decades it will transform the industrial sector and fundamentally alter the way products are manufactured. The United States will produce more and more goods for less and less energy.

The report is intended to enable more informed energy efficiency decision making in the manufacturing sector, program development in the efficiency sector and policy discussions in the utility and public sectors.

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