Technology leads project to improve Defense supply chain

Relying on the College of Technology’s expertise and experience, a new advanced manufacturing institute focused on digital manufacturing will help introduce 3D product data and interoperability standards to companies within the U.S. Department of Defense supply chain. It is one of several projects for the newly established Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) institute in Chicago, known as the Digital Lab, announced by President Obama Feb. 25.

Purdue University is one of 73 partners – including colleges, universities and corporations from across the country – in the Digital Lab. Nathan Hartman, associate professor of computer graphics technology and director of Purdue’s Product Lifecycle Management Center, will play an instrumental role in the first project focused on the advanced manufacturing enterprise. He will lead Purdue’s work with partners Rolls Royce, GE, PARC, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

In addition to work in the areas of modeling and standards, Purdue will develop best practices for the use of 3-D modeling and product data throughout a product’s lifecycle, which is instrumental in extended supply chains such as those involved in defense systems. A digitally integrated supply chain is particularly relevant to the Department of Defense because of its complex systems, extended supply chains, and the long lifecycles of the products it uses. The digital product data is used by many people over the life of the product system, including design, production, procurement, and support personnel.

“It is critical that the product data be able to be maintained and curated over the life of the product to reduce costs and accurately preserve product system information,” Hartman said.

These methods will be turned into training and workforce education materials. The training will be delivered through the Purdue Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Center, in conjunction with the Digital Lab, to a variety of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and small and medium enterprise (SME).

“The College of Technology’s programs have a focus on making things and the systems that supply, support, and sustain those things,” Hartman said. “Through the Digital Lab, Purdue will work to bring advances in technology to industry in the next 12 to 24 months rather than years from now.”

Purdue’s participation in the Digital Lab for Manufacturing is also a success for IN-MaC, Purdue's next generation manufacturing competitiveness center. Purdue will call upon Hartman’s role with the IN-MaC team as the initial project ramps up and for new Digital Lab projects where their missions mesh, such as:

  • a focus on the model-based, digital enterprise;
  • data consumption and curation within the supply chain;
  • research focused on medium to high technology readiness levels;
  • a desire to promote technology adoption among small and medium manufacturers; and
  • a workforce education model that includes K-12, post-secondary, and incumbent workforce populations.

Hartman serves as co-director of IN-MaC's research effort along with Abhijit Deshmukh, the James J. Solberg Head of Industrial Engineering. IN-MaC was launched with State funding July 1, 2013.

Hartman says Purdue researchers will have the opportunity to work on additional Digital Lab projects as they are launched.

Read the full Purdue News Service news release.

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