ChE Seminar – “Advancing Manufacturers Competitiveness Through Smart Manufacturing” by Dr. Jim Wetzel (Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute)

Hosts: Dr. Michael Baldea and Dr. Thomas Edgar


The word Smart Manufacturing is gaining the world’s attention. The Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute has been launched with support from the Department of Energy, learn how this  institute is  advancing manufacturing in the US, its goals and plans.  I will also go into detail about examples from leading companies who have started their Smart Manufacturing journey and can show all of us a reason to believe in the tremendous value that can be achieved.  I will review the opportunities, challenges and barriers to provide a differential outcome for Manufacturers as they try to democratize this new approach across the Supply Chain.


Jim is currently a strategic advisor to the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute.    This is a National Innovation Institute sponsored by the Department of Energy and is 1 of 14 Institutes of Manufacturing USA.   The Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) aims to radically accelerate the development and adoption of Smart Manufacturing —including advanced sensors, controls, platforms, and models—to help companies of all sizes across a variety of manufacturing industries to realize the benefits of Smart Manufacturing.

Prior to this Jim was the interim CEO of CESMII from August 2017 to August 2018.  Jim’s role was to lead the successful startup of the Institute and provide the foundation for long term success.

The Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, brings over $140 million in public-private investment from leading universities and manufacturers to focus on innovations that will advance U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, sustainability and innovation.  In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, CESMII brings together a consortium of nearly 200 partners from across academia, industry and non-profits – hailing from more than thirty states.  CESMII is the 9th Institute of  Manufacturing USA, a network of regional institutes, each with a specialized technology focus.

After 32 years at General Mills Inc, Jim retired in August, 2017 as Director Engineering–Global Reliability.  In this role he was responsible for improving the existing asset base in GMI Manufacturing Plants across the Globe. Our mission is to improve, sustain and extend the life of our assets.  This function was  responsible for technology, standardization, reliability and maintenance and energy reduction. In addition, Jim was responsible for the technical mastery, learning and development for all of engineering.

While at General Mills, Jim has had roles in proprietary machine design, Manufacturing System Improvement and Optimization, Cheerios and Wheaties Product Improvement, System Engineering,  Control System Application Development and Architecture, MES Application Development and Platform Center of Excellence.

Jim was the Chairman of the Board of the SMLC, Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, until his retirement in August, 2017   He holds a BS Mechanical Engineering and MBA, both from the University of Minnesota.

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