SM Platform FAQ

What is the SM Platform?
What are economic benefits of the SM Platform?
How does it work?
How does the SM Platform enable the adoption of SM Systems?
What are R&D challenges?
What technology is involved?
What are the SM Platform components?
What are analogous examples of the SM Platform?
How is the SM Platform technologically different?
What are overarching outcomes of the SM Platform?
What are the technical specifications for the SM Platform?
What is the role of test beds?


What is the SM Platform?

Smart Manufacturing Platform (SM Platform) is a shared, open architecture and software infrastructure that integrates components required to assemble customized SM Systems on a standards-based deployment infrastructure. SM Systems integrate data driven manufacturing intelligence in real-time across an entire factory and supply chain.

SM Platform will significantly lower the barriers of cost and complexity of applying core data analytics, modelling and simulation resources to manufacturing operations. Manufacturers will be able to evaluate and assemble a combination of controls, models, and energy productivity metrics with the appropriate scope and degree of rigor for their company.

A major goal is to enable the commercial use of SM systems across all U.S. manufacturing operations. SM Platform enables the use of advanced fusion sensors, reduced order models, and integrated performance metrics simultaneously and adaptively in manufacturing environment. The shared infrastructure also provides support to merge ICME assets and capabilities into manufacturing operations.

Through the SM Platform, transformational advances in a variety of performance metrics can be more accessibly and rapidly achieved:

  • Energy productivity
  • Yield
  • Production cycle time
  • Quality
  • Supply chain integration
  • Rapid qualification
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Environmental performance

Larger companies can choose more complex modelling configurations, and smaller companies can access just what they need for their specific operations. Large and small companies alike can have network access to run or download applications.


What are economic benefits of the SM Platform?

SMLC has identified a number of operational management areas with significant economic and performance benefit that are priority interests by a cross-section of companies across a number of industry segments - refining, gas, food, automorive, power generation, and heating/forgin/machining. This includes:

  • Actionable business and operations tradeoffs.
  • Supply chain variability reduction and management of risk.
  • Untapped degrees of freedom for optimizing efficiency and productivity performance.
  • Tracking and traceability.
  • Rapid qualification of intermediate and final products and product components.
  • In-production integrated computational materials engineering.
  • New forms of machine utilization and performance benchmarking.

Industry examples include:

  • Traceability for food products back to the farm source to meet Food and Drug Administration regulations.
  • Develop deeper relationships with suppliers to control material flow and inventory to match variations in consumer demand.
  • Manage production schedules in its plants across all operations and locations.

How does it work?

SMLC will address cross industry enterprise integration practices, pre-competitive and competitive modeling and simulation assimilation, real-time syncing of virtual and physical models, and the development of at scale demonstrations.

SM Platform allows manufacturers to assemble a combination of controls, models, and productivity metrics to customize modeling and control systems in real-time.

  1. Data is collected and computational results interface with operating equipment and automation infrastructures.
  2. Results display in actionable timeframes to operators, engineers, and managers through dashboards while in production.
  3. Integrating data and information around specific performance metrics, makes it possible to anticipate, plan, manage risk and optimize performance in real-time.
  4. SMP’s open-architecture allows entrepreneurs to develop and license their IP in the form that can be plugged into the platform.

The open architecture will construct customizable real-time data driven modeling applications as Apps assembled, scheduled and managed in a workflow framework.

The SM Platform is analogous to the smartphone and application (“Apps”) store platforms offered by Apple and Google.  Like the Apple and Google platforms the SM Platform provides a standardized architecture that promotes very rapid, low cost development of compatible Apps by numerous third parties, while maintaining consistency and security for individual users and the basic operating system.  The SM Platform differs from a smartphone platform in that it addresses data management, modeling, and key performance metrics as Apps that can be assembled into a workflow to provide information for real-time management decisions.  The content and open architecture of the SM Platform will allow manufacturers to evaluate and assemble a combination of controls, models, and key performance metrics into a system with the appropriate scope and degree of rigor for their company, regardless of industry or organization size.


How does the SM Platform enable the adoption of SM Systems?

SM Platform reduces the engineering costs traditionally required to develop a customized control system for a specific application.Since SM system implementation consists of valves, sensors, software, and computers, and does not require any major infrastructure redesigns, the capital cost to install a system in a manufacturing company is low compared to the savings available from improved operations. These components are largely invariant across SM systems and only need to be designed once to allow manufacturers to assemble management systems from the SM Platform. The infrastructure and SM Platform avoids the high cost of developing one-off, pin point solutions.


What are R&D challenges?

Despite the potential impact of SM systems, U.S. businesses continue to delay replacement of 20 to 40 year old mainframe control systems due to financial constraints, and business, political, and regulatory uncertainties. Without a modern industrial infrastructure to enable adoption of SM systems, new process control and automation systems implemented in piecemeal fashion will be easier to justify than long term infrastructure investments. However, development of the SM Platform that will accelerate deployment of SM systems represents a large, risky investment that no single company, or small group of companies will accept. As a result, collaboration is the only way to accelerate adoption of SM systems in the U.S.

Integrating SM Systems requires real-time and dynamic interfacing across all levels of a production operation for multiple layers of data management and modeling. Building the SMP requires significant technical integration and cross industry collaboration, and includes technical and business risks that the SMLC plans to address.The enabling infrastructure of the SM Platform involves multidimensional, virtual shared platforms with access to the tools and capabilities to interface with physical and human systems, as well as the integral virtual facilities for cyber-physical workforce systems.

For more details, please see R&D Challenges.


What technology is involved?

The defining technical threads in smart manufacturing are time, synchronization, and alignment of cyber-physical requirements. Multiple layers of data management and modeling are needed to cover the full scope of automation, control, decision, management and optimization and still achieve a computationally tractable, actionable and real-time data driven modeling and simulation capability. Layers are formed as a result of spatial and temporal scale limitations on real-time modeling, human-centered interaction vs. automation, and synchronization and computational tractability requirements. To effectively scale across small, medium, and large enterprises, there needs to be common infrastructure in the form of a virtual platform that can be shared.


What are the SM Platform components?

  1. Industry-driven standards based practices (i.e., reference architecture) agreed to by multiple control and automation providers so that SM Systems constructed on the platform can interoperate with proprietary in-plant infrastructure regardless of provider
  2. An ‘apps’ based store with data collection and management, modeling and simulation, metrics and interface ‘apps’ architected for composability
  3. A real-time, workflow based architecture and toolkit for assembling ‘apps’ into SM Systems,
  4. Tool kits for assembling customized integrated performance metrics, syncing high fidelity models with reduced order in-production models, and data management schema
  5. The computational and storage tools including methods for protection of intellectual property and security for rapid evaluation and deployment of an SM (workflow-based) System
  6. The use of web-based technologies to address the heterogeneity of operating systems and implementation environments, and (7) training and consultation to support the shared use of the platform by small, medium and large companies.

At its technical core the SM Platform defines how data is collected and shared, how computationally generated results interface with operating equipment and automation infrastructures and results are displayed in an actionable form to operators, engineers, and managers through dashboards. In terms of modeling, simulation, computation and analytics, the SM Platform’s code management architecture is designed for time-integrated sensor/data driven workflows constructed from "apps", each of which is software code that accommodates the workflow interface specifications. By accommodating time-integrated workflows, the SM Platform by definition accommodates static design, engineering and offline evaluation.


What are analogous examples of the SM Platform?

There are numerous commercial examples of open infrastructure platforms and their benefits for static applications of modeling and simulation.  For example, Autonomie, developed by Argonne National Laboratory, enables the rapid integration of proprietary and public models into a total vehicle simulation. Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) reduces the time and cost of developing complex vehicle systems. Smartphone operating systems from Apple and Google reduce the time and cost of writing apps.  Interestingly, these systems are examples that simultaneously demonstrate the value of a unified platform infrastructure in reducing cost and time of building functional systems.


How is the SM Platform technologically different?

SMLC has identified three areas requiring new functions that have never been demonstrated:

  • Inclusion of time in a workflow architecture that adjusts actions if pre-determined activities do not occur as anticipated
  • Integrated assembly of data management, modeling and simulation, metrics, and interface apps in a real-time workflow architecture
  • In-production use of reduced order models in real-time workflow apps that need to be synchronized with high fidelity models operating outside real-time.


What are overarching outcomes of the SM Platform?

Please see SMLC Overarching Outcomes.


What are the technical specifications for the SM Platform?

Please see SMLC’s Technical Briefing Document for details. 


What is the role of test beds?

SMLC test beds provide the basis for defining individual company or organization smart manufacturing objectives and integrated performance metrics. These cross company and industry objectives and performance metrics are the basis of the SM Platform's scope and design. SMLC company test beds provide at-scale demonstrations of smart manufacturing for a range of objectives across small, medium and large enterprises in various industry segments.