The search for scalable solutions

Consortia under the Manufacturing USA banner continue to drive innovation with a mix of public, private, government and educational assets all working together to solve some of today’s manufacturing challenges and certainly prepare for tomorrow’s manufacturing. In this spirit, machine design recently met Berardino Baratta, the new CEO of MxD.

In his role, Baratta oversees all technology investments, partner relationships and project execution for MxD’s over $120 million portfolio of advanced manufacturing technology, research, development and demonstration. in cybersecurity and workforce development.

barata and machine design Bob Vavra, Senior Director of Content, discussed MxD’s mission in an extensive interview. They talked about MxD’s success to date, how more manufacturers could use MxD on their own projects, and the future of digital technology. You can see the highlights of the chapter below.

Chapter 1: The Growth of MxD

In this chapter, Baratta discusses his personal history with MxD, which began three years ago. One of the biggest changes to the MxD facility over the past five years includes two 5G networks.

Baratta: “If you visited MxD before the pandemic, and you visited it today, it’s 70% different – ​​80% almost – almost every element of this floor has changed. An example of this is AT&T and Datacom, as members we have a fully functional 5G network here, not just one but two. We can cover all the 5G technologies that manufacturers are looking to use. Working with government and industry, we have funds to build a series of testbeds on which we will begin to examine the use cases that industry and DOD need and so that we can begin to testing 5G use cases here in our factory environment. .”

Chapter 2: Workforce Development

The manufacturing industry has been preparing for labor shortages for decades, and now that it is materializing, MxD sees cybersecurity as a new avenue for the manufacturing workforce. Baratta explained that MxD’s Cybersecurity for Manufacturing Hiring guide identified more than 427 cybersecurity positions and developed career paths for them.

Baratta: “For me, it’s the most interesting thing we do because it has an impact on human lives, doesn’t it? If we can create an opportunity for someone to have a career in manufacturing that they didn’t have access to before, these are fulfilling careers that can really help take care of people and change their lives.

Chapter 3: Importance of partnerships

Vavra pointed out that MxD started as a government partnership, but now MxD’s partners range from government, public, private and academic institutions. In response, Baratta described how all of the organization’s partners help serve its members, small to medium-sized manufacturers.

Baratta: “So we had a first-generation project with Dow and Microsoft and Purdue University. They worked together to show how you can use artificial intelligence to identify risks within the supply chain. When we had the opportunity with the CARES Act funding to build on that, we expanded that program and started looking at a much broader form of risk, but also much broader tools in place to try to mitigate this risk.

Chapter 4: Evolution of workshops and seminars

One of MxD’s pre-pandemic initiatives was to host events featuring real-world use cases for different technologies across multiple industry verticals. Baratta explained that during the pandemic, the company turned to virtual learning webinars, and those remain to this day.

Chapter 5: The factory of the future

MxD’s Chicago facility houses advanced manufacturing examples, including an Industry 4.1 cybersecurity functional test bed.

Baratta: “Our space here in Chicago…we’re practicing Industry 4.1 cybersecurity. So it’s not just PowerPoint, it’s not just a concept. You can come in and see these things, can’t you? Handy, some of them you can literally touch them and play with them, you know, our assembly test rig is a fan favorite because they can actually play with the tech on the front.

Chapter 6: Focus on small and medium enterprises

Vavra and Baratta discussed the community surrounding MxD’s headquarters. Fast Radius, a 3D printing company, has used MxD’s technology and partner ecosystem to drive innovation in the additive manufacturing industry.

The pair also discussed the reluctance of some smaller manufacturers to adopt advanced technologies.

Baratta: “We do things where every project has to have a result, tangible value that is delivered to all members, regardless of size. For many of them, it’s about results where they can actually understand, “Okay, here’s what it took to create this technology.” Here is the benefit we saw. Here are the issues we faced, “so they can go into these efforts with their eyes wide open.”

Chapter 7: Cybersecurity for Small Business

Elaborating on an earlier point, the two men moved on to a discussion of the need for increased cybersecurity, especially for small businesses that believe they might not be high risk due to their size.

Baratta: “So a small business… They don’t know what to do. We have actually compiled a list of suppliers. We’re not Amazon, we’re not trying to sell you solutions, but our members said, “Hey, give us some guidelines on who to work with,” so we picked a pool of about 60 vendors at the moment, and it’s increasing every day, i.e. “Okay, I need multi-factor authentication”. Here are three of them that we have pre-checked for you, and so it ultimately helps people move forward and avoid the obstacles that stand in their way.

Chapter 8: Roadshow MxD

Baratta pointed out that there are only a few things that can be done virtually. The MxD Roadshow is a program in which the organization comes to manufacturers to assess their infrastructure, equipment and architecture.

Chapter 9: Targeting Insider Cybersecurity Threats

The most dangerous cybersecurity threat comes from within. As the national center for cybersecurity, MxD hooks its own to ensure staff are trained in the act of risk mitigation.

Baratta: “Industry 4.0, digital manufacturing, lives on data. It’s about sharing data within your operations. It’s about sharing data within your supply chain. You can’t just dismiss everything and expect this to fix the problem. Once again, it is as if it were an awareness campaign. How do you get people to understand where the risks are? How do you get people to look at that? The manufacturing industry is now the number one target of cybersecurity attacks. It’s gone insurance, it’s gone finance.

Chapter 10: Barriers to Advanced Computing Technologies

Vavra asked Baratta what’s stopping manufacturers from adopting technologies like edge computing and AI.

Baratta: “So that’s probably the answer you don’t like because the answer is really good shape, really bad shape. The answer is that it depends, right? »

3D printers, for example, were pulled from the prototyping department and installed in the factory when the supply chain broke during the height of COVID.

Baratta: “People at the factory to understand what they need to know for this to happen? This is the first step. The other is leadership. »

Chapter 11: Skills Development and Workforce Retention

Baratta: “You have to start thinking about micro-learning, micro-certifications that give people the skills they need without them leaving the labor market to acquire them. This will be the key to the future so that you have a resilient, flexible and adaptable workforce that can meet the needs of your facilities today and in the years to come.

Chapter 12: Challenges for the future of manufacturing

Vavra and Baratta closed their discussion with the “What’s next?” question. The answer? Manufacturing has a momentum it cannot and must not lose. The “normal” is constantly changing and evolving, just like the industry. This includes innovation and thinking on all fronts: cybersecurity, staff training, education, leadership and technology.

Baratta: “We’ve always looked a few years ahead because of the way we live in this innovation death valley, it’s not about looking at today’s problems. “It’s about looking at the problems of tomorrow and trying to invest in those areas to prepare the industry to be ready to respond to them.”