Whether you call it the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet, the concepts and technologies that form its basis are rapidly changing manufacturing. This was the focus of the DEVCON 2015 conference, held June 11-12 in Evanston, IL and sponsored by GE and Industrial Network Systems, an efficiency solutions and analytics provider to companies like Nestlé and Anheuser-Busch.

“You have to interconnect your facility to get more value from it,” says George Barnych, director of research and development programs at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). Barnych delivered the conference keynote address, “Applying Digital Manufacturing Technologies to Solve Business Problems.”

During a product application overview, Marcela Marquez, channel manager of GE Intelligent Platforms, explained the Industrial Internet initiative is aiming to bring together three elements: brilliant machines, advanced analytics and connecting people at work. She provided a description of the GE Proficy product suite and how it has been enabled by recent technology, including lower-cost sensors, wireless communication, real-time intelligence and data analytics, and cloud computing.

GE predicts digital manufacturing will happen in what the company refers to as “The Brilliant Factory.” According to Keith Davies, general manager of Proficy Core for GE Intelligent Platforms, the concept will be made possible by three components: a cloud platform, accurate data and analytics, and manufacturing productivity tools. Ultimately, he says, this will help manufacturers get connected, gain insights into their facilities and optimize their operations.

DMDII is a federally funded research and development organization that encourages US factories to put digital manufacturing and design technologies to work in their facilities by making them more efficient and cost competitive. Digital manufacturing is an integrated suite of tools that work throughout the product manufacturing lifecycle to optimize the manufacturing process. It includes the support of tool design, manufacturing design, visualization, modeling and simulation, data analytics and other analytics.

 DMDII currently has seven research and development projects. It is call on the industry and academia to submit solutions on topics such as developing cybersecurity assessment tools, designing wearable digital technologies for floor workers, creating a universal robotic language, etc.