MIT Researchers are working to prepare manufacturers for future crises


With the global spread of Covid-19, medical mask manufacturers are creating masks.

A project funded by a new NSF is developing a model that will help manufacturers orient and manufacture personal protective equipment.

At the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, the state of Massachusetts assembled a production emergency response team as part of its efforts to meet the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), especially masks and gowns. Massachusetts Emergency Response Team (M-ERT) – helps WITH teachers, students, workers and alumni – have helped local manufacturers produce more than 9 million PPEs, as well as large quantities of hand sanitizers, disinfectants and test strips.

Based on the experience and knowledge gained from the recent work of M-ERT, a new project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), it is developing a network collaboration model designed to enable ecosystems to organize and grow rapidly. in an emergency, from the production of standard products to the production of PPE or other urgently needed goods. Elisabeth Reynolds, Executive Director of MIT Working Group and MIT Industrial Performance Center for the Work of the Future, John Hart, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Production and Productivity Laboratory, Ben Linville-Engler, Director of Industry and Certification System Design and Management Program and MIT Additional and Digital The center’s program manager, Haden Quinlan, works with researchers from the University of Massachusetts’ Lowell and Worcester Polytechnic Institutes, as well as Massachusetts Technology Collaborative researchers.

“The Massachusetts production ecosystem has proven to be extremely valuable in response to Covid-19, and has been significantly activated through M-ERT collaboration,” Reynolds said.

The NSF grant will allow researchers to collect and study data from recent emergency production efforts, as well as to develop a network and collaboration model that can be applied to production in future crises. The RESPOND network (a fast implementation to scale up desirable designs) will support the creation of a diversified, diverse stakeholder ecosystem that can support large-scale production of new products during crises.

“This grant allows us to look retrospectively at what we do [with M-ERT]”So in the future, we can do it proactively by working on ecosystem engineering and manufacturing,” says Linville-Engler. We can look at how people operate in such an information network. ”

Linville-Engler describes this type of network modeling by looking at the “network of networks” along with the uncertainties, needs, and requirements that develop in different networks.

“This project highlights important opportunities for the use of digital tools for the development of production in regional and national areas,” he said. “We hope to implement what we have learned on a large scale and bring flexibility to the production ecosystem.”

In addition to the RESPOND network project, a number of other MIT-based production efforts have recently received federal funding. A new, flexible production course is being developed and taught by Hart, Linville-Engler and Quinlan. Reynolds received an NSF planning grant to understand people, along with Julie Shah, an associate professor at the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Laboratory of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, and Paul Osterman, a professor of human resources and management at MIT Sloan. Technology is a frontier as part of research related to the MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future.

“These efforts represent an renewed commitment to production in this country,” Reynolds said. “In the advanced manufacturing world, we are at a real turning point, marked by new information and new challenges.”

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