Caterpillar Collaborates with Other Manufacturers and Universities to Develop Digital Manufacturing Institute through White House Initiative

In 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology wanted to take a hard look at the current and future states of advanced manufacturing in the United States. To do this, experts from academia and within the manufacturing industry provided valuable input, including Caterpillar’s now-retired Engineering Manager Karen Huber (Product Development & Global Technology Division, PD&GT) and Large Power Systems Division Vice President (then PD&GT VP) Tana Utley. Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman sat on the Steering Committee for this sizable initiative.

Together, the nation-wide team of experts made recommendations to help evolve the country’s competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing. One recommendation in the resulting Report to the President compelled the U.S. government to invest money in establishing private-public manufacturing innovation institutes, bringing together the best U.S. minds to develop cutting-edge technologies and drive U.S. advanced manufacturing efforts.

Regional teams developed across the country to compete for $70 million in grant money from the Department of Defense for the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute. Caterpillar joined the Midwest team, managed by UI LABS. On February 25, the White House announced UI LABS as one of two consortiums that won the grant to implement a new manufacturing innovation hub.

Caterpillar—under the leadership of Manufacturing Engineering Manager Keith Egland—and more than 70 other companies, nonprofits, and universities in the consortium will collaborate with the federal government through UI LABS. Together, they will launch the nation’s flagship digital manufacturing Research & Development (R&D) lab in Illinois: the Digital Lab for Manufacturing. This Chicago-based project represents a total investment of $320 million, with $250 million from the consortium and $70 million from the U.S. government. Caterpillar plans to invest $1M total, to be paid in increments of approximately $200,000 over a five-year period.

The project offers unique opportunities for Caterpillar to both drive success for its customers and to use its expertise to help the United States gain a stronger competitive advantage on the advanced manufacturing global stage. By collaborating with other industry leaders, much like leading automakers do in the United States Council for Automotive Research, Caterpillar will have the opportunity to maximize research and development efforts of groundbreaking technologies. The results of this research will drive further R&D efforts at Caterpillar, resulting in even greater value for customers over time, and the potential benefits for the United States run both wide and deep.

Caterpillar Chief Technology Officer Gwenne Henricks said, “This is an exciting collaborative effort that will drive focused development in our industry. We look forward to working with other industry leaders to accelerate and enhance the state of advanced manufacturing in our country. Together, we’ll create U.S. jobs while growing the country’s global footprint with the most innovative technologies.”

For further information, see the White House press release and the UI LABS press release.


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