The future of manufacturing: Software solution predicts costs for manufacturers


Purdue University innovators are focused on the next generation of manufacturing


Credit: Purdue University/Ben Haley

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – As manufacturers of all sizes look to the future after the COVID-19 pandemic, new software designed to help manufacturers better predict and adjust costs may assist organizers one day with huge events such as the Olympic Games.

Innovators at the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center, or IN-MaC, created the software to help manufacturers better predict overall costs and the costs associated with layout alternatives and adjustments to their manufacturing processes.

The software and its continued development are part of several projects underway at IN-MaC focused on the future of manufacturing, with support from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

“This software came after I spent 15 years in the composite manufacturing world and saw wonderful products being produced that ended up being too expensive to bring to market,” said Jan-Anders Mansson, a Purdue distinguished professor of chemical and materials engineering who serves as co-executive director of IN-MaC. “This software is a predictive cost-modeling tool aimed to help manufacturers better understand the overall costs of producing a product, and how changes to the manufacturing process can affect those costs.”

The software tool uses a drag-and-drop palette of process steps that allows a user to vary the manufacturing process line with alternate configurations, such as equipment, robots and employees, to see how changes affect the final cost of the product. Each process step is characterized by cost parameters which can be adjusted to study the effects on overall manufacturing costs.

“This software helps manufacturers strategically plan their operations and then evaluate changes, all within the scope of understanding how everything affects the total cost,” said Ben Haley, the lead network engineer for IN-MaC, who worked with Mansson to develop the technology.

Haley also reconfigured the software to share with the International Olympic Committee. He used data from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro to demonstrate how the software could help event planners determine costs and configurations when dealing with crowds, security, transportation arrivals and other parameters.

Mansson is the head of the Manufacturing Design Laboratory, a part of the Indiana Manufacturing Institute (IMI), located at Purdue Research Foundation’s Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.

Haley said the team is working on a web version of the system, along with connecting it to real-time data sensors on manufacturing equipment. The team also is exploring ways to integrate machine learning and deep learning into their solution.

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization filed a registered copyright for the software. OTC is housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Purdue’s Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.


About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue’s intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park, Purdue Technology Centers and University Development Office. In 2020, the IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at [email protected] For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at [email protected] For more information about setting up a presence at Purdue, possibly in the Purdue Research Park or Discovery Park District, contact the PRF Economic Development Office at [email protected]

Writer: Chris Adam, [email protected]

Sources: Jan-Anders Mansson, [email protected]

Ben Haley, [email protected]

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Chris Adam
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