UWM’s Connected Systems Institute enhanced to include smart manufacturing platform

Plex, by Rockwell Automation, has joined forces with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Connected Systems Institute (CSI) to further enhance this state-of-the-art research and education facility with a premier smart manufacturing platform.

Rockwell Automation, a founding partner of CSI, expanded its partnership with UWM to include Plex offerings after acquiring the company in 2021.

Plex implemented its premier smart manufacturing platform software at CSI this spring, vastly enhancing the institute’s research capabilities and educational opportunities. The newly installed software includes a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and a Quality Management System (QMS). As an essential component for advanced manufacturing, MES helps a factory run smoothly by coordinating activities, ensuring materials are available, monitoring machines, and keeping track of product information.

Working in tandem with MES, a QMS provides a set of rules and processes that a company or organization follows to make sure that their products or services are of good quality, promoting a culture of quality. As a result, the advanced Plex software provides CSI with access to real-time production management without the need for paper-based processes. This integration ensures compliance, improves quality and boosts efficiency across the entire system.

The Plex MES is a cloud-based production platform that operates at scale. This solution seamlessly connects students and faculty with real-world testbeds, allowing them to interact, automate processes and track data from start to finish. Plex MES goes beyond traditional information capture and analysis, fostering innovation within the manufacturing industry.

“We have a deep passion for manufacturing,” said Anthony Murphy, vice president of product management at Plex. “Helping manufacturers evolve to meet the demands of tomorrow is at the heart of what we do. We are proud of our continued partnership with UWM’s CSI, the successful deployment of Plex MES and QMS, and how we are collaborating to build the next generation of manufacturing leadership.”

The partnership between Plex and CSI has benefits beyond manufacturing innovation. Students gain access to valuable resources, workshops and expertise, equipping them with the skills to tackle common manufacturing challenges. By using accurate data, disciplined scheduling and improved visibility, students can make real-time decisions to improve manufacturing processes.

The collaboration also creates opportunities for faculty and students to engage in various manufacturing analytics projects using the rich data sets generated by Plex MES.

“The rich data sets generated by the Plex MES provide a fertile ground for faculty and students to engage in a wide variety of manufacturing analytics projects,” said Rockwell Automation Endowed Professor in Connected Systems Atish Sinha, who is also CSI’s academic director. “For example, developing survival models for device or sensor failure, AI models for predictive maintenance and custom vision models for anomaly detection.”

Plex and CSI are committed to providing educational content to train the next generation of talent and upskill working professionals, Murphy said. Together, they aim to foster diversity and inclusion within the industry by increasing access to modern manufacturing methodologies. This partnership encourages students from all backgrounds to consider rewarding careers in the manufacturing field.

The launch of CSI in 2017 was made possible by a $1.7 million investment from Rockwell Automation. Currently, there are six industry members involved in CSI, including Rockwell Automation, Fortinet, UScellular, Brady Corp., Heartland Business Systems and Revere Electric. Another 11 companies collaborate on various projects at the institute.

For more information, contact Casey O’Brien at casey0@uwm.edu or 414-851-8767.