Chicago Lands Bid for Manufacturing Hub

Image via Flickr by swanksalot

As part of a government program headed by the Department of Defense, Chicago landed a hub for a digital manufacturing institute named the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. The Department of Defense kicked in $70 million for the project, and the state, industries, academic community, and community supporters contributed an additional $250 million. The facility will be located on the northern side of Chicago on Goose Island. Similar manufacturing institute hubs are slated for Youngstown, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Canton, Michigan. The announcement in Washington D.C. drew an impressive crowd, including the President, the governor of Illinois, the mayor of Chicago, and numerous other government and military officials. These hubs are expected to serve many purposes within manufacturing, particularly for the Department of Defense.

The Department needs a variety of complicated, highly integrated systems, yet does not have the volume requirements in the open market necessary to drive down costs and cycle times for producing these systems. The initiatives involving these manufacturing hubs are expected to produce manufacturing systems that are networked, data driven, and combine automation sensing and control technologies to lower the costs of manufacturing. These manufacturing systems could be applied to every sector within every manufacturing industry. The institute’s focus will be on mobile computing, cloud computing, and high performance computing.

In the past four years, the United States has added 620,000 new manufacturing jobs. The hub initiative is predicted to drive down production costs by 10 percent. The commercial aviation industry alone could see savings of $30 billion within 15 years from hubs like the one planned for Chicago. The government expects these initiatives to erase the advantages offered by the low-cost unskilled labor in developing countries, which drew manufacturing off U.S. soil in the first place. Germany already has 60 such manufacturing hubs.

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