October 3, 2023

Purdue’s eXcellence in Manufacturing and Operations initiative focuses on resiliency in the industry

Purdue experts lay out a road map to reignite manufacturing in the U.S. as part of November summit

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University’s recently launched eXcellence in Manufacturing and Operations Purdue Engineering Initiative, or XMO PEI, is positioned to strengthen the U.S. advanced manufacturing industry’s adaptability for the 21st century across multiple sectors, such as semiconductors, aerospace, defense, biomanufacturing for agriculture, and transportation. 

The XMO initiative is building a national coalition of academia, government and industry partners to meet at the intersection of physical, digital and sustainable manufacturing to achieve excellence at scale.

As part of the initiative, Purdue will in November host a summit at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in Washington, D.C. This event will bring together industry, government and academic leaders to discuss building resilient U.S. infrastructure for advanced manufacturing and operations, which are critical to America’s security and economic durability in the era of globalization.

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“It’s not just advanced manufacturing in the sense of making things in a factory. It’s also the supporting operations that you need for creating these resilient supply chains, resilient infrastructure and a resilient workforce,” said Stephan Biller, the Harold T. Amrine Distinguished Professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business.

biller-manufacturing Stephan Biller Download image

Biller and Ajay Malshe, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, were named XMO PEI co-chairs in May 2023.

Both are members of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

“Our biggest challenge is that the U.S. has great scientific innovations, technologies and minds. What we need is infrastructural resilience and a system for fast and real-world engineering and industrial translation of innovations at scale,” Malshe said. “While the U.S. is starting to make notable moves toward building a robust supply chain, we need to be more focused and intentional about resilient manufacturing and operations for the present and future as a matter of national security. We’re addressing that through the XMO initiative with a unified national message that ‘we make, and we move.’”

To bring about that change, the co-chairs said the country needs to undergo a seismic shift in the manufacturing sector.

Biller said the U.S. needs a manufacturing renaissance, adding, “At the same time we want to do it in a digitally enabled and sustainable way. The renaissance is quite critical for prosperity, for our ability to innovate and for our society. If you only design and then have other nations manufacture this, you’re losing your ability to innovate.”

malshe-manufacturing Ajay Malshe Download image

Malshe, who is the inaugural director of the Manufacturing and Materials Research Laboratories, echoed Biller’s sentiments and added the shift supports a key pillar for economic stability and security.

“I would like to go from ‘designing in America and manufacturing elsewhere’ to ‘designing in America and manufacturing in America.’ That’s the renaissance I’d like to see, and that’s the renaissance we need to build resilience,” Malshe added.

The multidisciplinary scope of the co-chairs’ research mirrors the junction of disciplines that govern advanced manufacturing and operations today, as it spans physical processes, digital transformation and sustainable production. “The collaborative multidisciplinary approach at Purdue mirrors the endeavors of large and small innovators; most innovation happens in the intersection of disciplines today,” said Biller, who has 25 years of experience as a senior executive at companies including General Electric Co., General Motors Co. and IBM.

“I would argue that there is probably no resiliency without sustainability, because you really have to ensure that you produce in a more environmentally friendly way,” Biller said. “If you want the next-generation workforce interested in manufacturing, you better make sure that it’s happening sustainably.”

Malshe and Biller said the initiative will be an instrument to foster nationwide collaborations from multiple academic disciplines that share a common bond to develop, educate and retrain the workforce in critical industrial sectors.

Biller said accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies and tools in advanced manufacturing, strengthening operations, and bolstering the supply chain must benefit not only large corporations. 

“We need to build an advanced manufacturing operations innovation ecosystem that will allow us to help the small and medium-sized businesses that supply the original equipment manufacturers,” Biller said. “If you want resilient supply chains and transparent supply chains, we need these small and medium manufacturers to transform in physical, digital and sustainable manufacturing.”

Biller cited work underway at Purdue’s Dauch Center for the Management of Manufacturing Enterprises, in which he serves as director, as the types of efforts to be supported by XMO PEI. 

“In particular, it is contributing to Indiana’s electric vehicle product commission initiatives, analyzing transformational risk and opportunities in both innovation and workforce development and helping with courses and conferences to educate the small and midsize enterprises in digital transformation,” Biller said.

Malshe, who has more than 30 years of experience in industry and academia, said advanced manufacturing related to defense and in-space applications, agriculture and food security, transportation, and semiconductors is often not discussed.

“The new space age is upon us, and Space 2.0 will provide colossal returns for America’s engineering and scientific sectors,” said Malshe. “Today, space commerce, security and exploration are getting seamlessly interconnected to Earth physically, digitally and sustainably.”

Conexus Indiana, a statewide organization that exists to promote Indiana’s advanced manufacturing and logistics sector, hails Purdue’s critical role in the transformation of industry.

“Working with Purdue University, we look forward to accomplishing digital transformation and workforce readiness at scale,” Conexus Indiana president and CEO Fred Cartwright said. “Our efforts in digital transformation and workforce readiness, through statewide programs such as Manufacturing Readiness Grants and Catapult Indiana, contribute to building resiliency in these critical sectors.”

Along with national alliances, within Purdue the PEI will foster academic alliances across campus with the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, the College of Agriculture, the College of Science, and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute to statewide and national impact.  

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among the top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition for 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

Writer/Media contact: Wes Mills, wemills@purdue.edu 

Sources: Ajay Malshe, Stephan Biller

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