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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Auburn to expand Industry 4.0 research and training with $7.2M DoD award


By David Schwartz
Published: September 21st, 2021

Auburn University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems (ICAMS), flush with a $7.2 million award from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Industrial Policy’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program, will be expanding its work to encourage small and medium-sized manufacturers to adopt the advanced technologies associated with Industry 4.0, or smart manufacturing.

A good deal of the research will involve creating a cyber-physical testbed where Industry 4.0 technologies can be challenged with sophisticated, simulated cyber-attacks to determine vulnerabilities and help assure manufacturers of the technology’s safety from such intrusions. The award will also be used to improve the skills of the next generation of engineers and the existing workforce to take full advantage of Industry 4.0 technologies in their operations.

“With this award, we are building upon our original mission and expanding our research and services in key areas,” said Gregory Harris, ICAMS director and associate professor in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Gregory Purdy, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering and a co-PI on the award, said the center will create of the nation’s first cyber-physical manufacturing range (CpMR) to encourage technology adoption in small and medium-sized manufacturers and overcome their fear of malicious cyber activity.

“Industry 4.0 driven manufacturing environments are a collection of different equipment and technologies that increase the potential attack surface for malicious cyberattacks,” Purdy explained. “We are trying to understand what vulnerabilities exist in these systems and the potential impacts of a cyberattack on both the process and resulting part.” Since it’s not possible to simulate attacks on technology used in real production environments, the testbed

solves this dilemma by allowing a safe environment for testing and evaluating malicious cyber activity in an Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing platform.

“It allows students, researchers and other professionals to execute attacks and see what the outcome is in a state-of-the-art machining cell,” Purdy said. “I could unleash the most potent and sophisticated attack that I have and completely make everything go haywire, without endangering a key production resource.”

The new funding will also support creation of a digital manufacturing demonstration cell, starting with creation of a solid model from a 3D scan. The model will then be sent to a vertical machining center that will produce the part. A robotic arm will remove the part from the mill and deliver it to a coordinate measurement machine for automated inspection.

“This additional equipment is going to make us more capable and allow us the ability to better showcase digital manufacturing demonstrations on site,” Harris explained. “We can show that this artifact can go all the way from design through production with little to no human intervention, really highlighting digital manufacturing capabilities. Manufacturers will be able to relate to that and say, ‘if they can do that with this artifact, I can envision what I’m trying to do using this technology.’”

“The ability at ICAMS to create tailored programs upon request from industry allows local industries to adapt to changing industry trends much more easily using existing personnel,” said Lewis Payton, ICAMS associate director and professor of practice in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “Auburn students in the new manufacturing minor will also be graduating with hands-on experience using industrial grade equipment. ICAMS is poised to become the premier fabrication and teaching laboratory in the Southeast, including future expansion into the area of die fabrication and repair.”

Adele Ratcliff, director of the DoD IBAS program which is funding the effort, commended the ICAMS project as “a forward-leaning model that has been proven to overcome technology-adoption hesitancy in companies of all sizes.” He added: “Larger manufacturers have the resources to fund these risk reduction activities on their own. By partnering with small and medium manufacturers, ICAMS allows these companies to have confidence that their technology implementation projects will provide valuable process and capability improvements with limited operational risk.” 

Source: Auburn University

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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