Durbin, Bustos Highlight Potential of Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute - Peoria

[PEORIA, IL] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) today outlined the potential impact the new the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (or Digital Lab) will have on the Peoria region and throughout Illinois. The Digital Lab, run by UI Labs, is a first-of-its-kind manufacturing hub that will bring the future of American manufacturing to Illinois. Supported by $320 million—including $70 million in direct federal investment—the Digital Lab could help create 75,000 jobs over the next five years.

“Today’s manufacturing is much different than that of our parents. Manufacturers must now be ready to take on the jobs of the future—ones that blend traditional hands-on skills with advanced technology and robotics—leading to new innovations,” Durbin said. “World-class partners from across the country – including Caterpillar here in Peoria – will work to improve manufacturing efficiency to create new opportunities for businesses and workers. Illinois’ Digital Lab will make our small and midsize manufacturers more competitive globally by allowing them to integrate computing capabilities throughout design, testing, and production. But most importantly, the Lab will be a great source of innovation, development, and economic growth in our state and position us as a leader in the field for years to come.”

“Our workers are some of the best in the world, and bolstering manufacturing in our region has been a key priority of mine since taking office, and why I urged President Obama in Galesburg last year to bring this promising Digital Lab to Illinois,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “Senator Durbin has been a steadfast advocate for this initiative as well, and I'm pleased that we had this opportunity to partner with community leaders for today's information session and believe the Digital Lab creates significant promise for manufacturing and research jobs in our region.”

"We are extremely honored, and excited, to have Western Illinois University as a part of this project," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "At Western, we make great things happen. Our ability to contribute our resources and expertise allowed Western Illinois University to become a partner in this federal initiative. This program will provide our students with invaluable experiences, make a great contribution to this nation's economic base and help make Western's School of Engineering and the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab more renowned."

“The University of Illinois thanks Senator Durbin for convening Peoria-area manufacturing stakeholders and leading a discussion about the vast potential of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute,” University President Robert Easter said. "We are also grateful to Senator Durbin, Congresswoman Bustos and the entire Illinois congressional delegation for their efforts in advancing the institute — an important victory for our entire state that will create jobs and drive economic growth.”

The Digital Lab seeks to establish a common “digital thread” to the entire manufacturing process, from initial concept to system retirement, so that each stage can be accomplished in less time and for less cost. It will help the U.S. regain its dominance in manufacturing by using digital technology to lower production costs, make it easier for small manufacturers to use cutting edge technology, and create high-wage, high-skilled jobs for American workers.

World-class partners from across the country – including Caterpillar, General Electric, John Deere, and Boeing – will work to improve manufacturing efficiency to create new opportunities for businesses and workers, while schools like University of Illinois and Northern Illinois University will equip workers and researchers with the tools they need to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. Peoria, specifically, is an equipment manufacturing hub, and by locating the Digital Lab in Illinois, defense companies, contractors, and manufacturers – even those that are not official partners - will be looking to Illinois for innovation, development and growth.

The Department of Defense has an enormous stake in ensuring that U.S. manufacturing evolves into a more agile, connected, collaborative and efficient industry. The Department requires complex, highly integrated systems to gain technological advantage, but it lacks the open market or volume to push costs or cycle times lower. Results will be applicable to nearly every manufacturing industry sector and are expected to decrease costs by roughly 10% across the manufacturing enterprise. Projected savings in commercial aviation alone is $30 billion over 15 years.

Earlier this year the lab received $10 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to transition Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) manufacturing technology to U.S. industry that is in addition to their regular federal funding.

As Chairman for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Durbin included funding for DARPA – an agency within the Department of Defense – in the Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress last year. As the Assistant Senate Majority Leader and the senior Senator from Illinois, Durbin led the Congressional effort in securing initial grant for the Digital Manufacturing Lab following a series of meetings and conversations with White House officials and two coordinated delegation letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.