Distributed Decentralized Rural Agile Manufacturing

Distributed Decentralized Rural Agile Manufacturing

Long before the Covid 19 outbreak, I was a finalist for the Blue Sky David Dornfeld Manufacturing Vision Award with a paper positing that manufacturing would become decentralized and distributed. Read my abstract below:

The future of manufacturing is not an urban centralized industrial complex, but rather one where manufacturing takes place at the point of use for the consumer. With the advent and democratization of 3D printing in combination with a distributed decentralized digital thread using Blockchain; the sharing of ideas, designs, and products can be consumed at the point of use while still maintaining intellectual property and providing the best price model for the seller and consumer.

Imagine, a farmer in Indiana has a tractor that recently broke a pulley on the engine. Instead of the local supply store having to stock hundreds of thousands of dollars of inventory or ordering the part from the manufacturer and waiting for delivery; they have one metal 3D printer that they can print any part on‐demand from the OEMs catalog and provide it within the same day to the farmer. Thus, reducing the overhead of the local farm supply store and providing the most competitive priced component to the farmer.

Tractor Repair

Now, how do we protect the intellectual property and everyone between? Enter the Blockchain. The blockchain is a chain of blocks that form a database. Devices that store these distributed data are not shared servers. Each block is an ordered record that contains a reference to the previous block and the time stamp. The list of blocks inside the database is constantly growing. The principle of the blockchain is to combine digital records into blocks. Complex mathematical algorithms link these blocks together in chronological cryptographic chain then new units are at the end of this chain. To rearrange the blocks in some places impossible, the system will reject such action on the basis of the timestamp and structure. The digital thread of models to 3D print various products for OEM catalogs can be secured in these digital blocks and only be accessed if payment is made and then the file can be used once for printing on the machine payment is made through. It’s almost like a “manufacturing vending machine.

A great physical example of this is Coca‐Cola. They set up a business model in which everybody makes money. Within very short order, they had worked out a model in which the bottlers, transporters, servers, soda fountains — everyone was making money. There was also a big push during World War II. Coca‐Cola made a deal with the Army to provide a Coke to any soldier anywhere in the world at a nickel a piece, and they got the Army to support that. This means the Army did all the transportation and helped build bottling plants. At the end of the war, infrastructure was in place in practically any country in the world and there was a whole generation totally devoted to Coke.

Brining manufacturing to the source of use is the future, large warehouses and storage facilities like Amazon distribution centers will be a thing of the past in 20 years. Everything from consumer products to electronics to industrial components will be printed on‐demand via Distributed Decentralized Rural Agile Manufacturing.

Industrial Robotics

Connecting with SME

I serve on the SME Member Council and recently wrote an article about the powerful connections SME fosters and growth the organization promotes. Below are my thoughts:

Dear Dianna,

My name is Joel Neidig, and I’m currently serving on the SME Member Council. I’d like to give you a little of my background and what I was doing in 1999. Let me tell you, it wasn’t anything that SME and the manufacturing community as a whole would find significant. I was 16, and on the weekends, my friends and I  would game, mostly strategy games like Warcraft (not WoW), Command & Conquer, Age of Empires and, of course, the occasional first-person shooter; Unreal Tournament was our FPS of choice.

In 1999, we didn’t have Wi-Fi (or it wasn’t readily available), and PCs just didn’t seamlessly connect to the internet. We spent most of the time arguing over how the network was going to be set up, yep we were geeks. A bad LAN setup could be the difference between ultimate victory and utter defeat. We had a lot of latency or “lag” back in the day, and we’d try everything we could to improve the experience. (Some of this may sound familiar with what you might be experiencing while at home with all the streaming that’s going on during the COVID-19 crisis.)

But I digress. As teenagers, we had the same issues that manufacturing has: How do I connect to the thing that’s most important to me and get the information I need to succeed? In manufacturing, we’ve gone from Radio Shack TSR80s and single-axis machine tools to Microsoft HoloLens and machine tools that are multiaxis, multitasking and multichannel. Without a standard way to communicate from machine-to-machine, we manufacturers are like me and my friends as teens — we’ve cobbled our devices together to get what we want or settle for less. So what’s a standard way manufacturing engineers can communicate and connect, especially in this time of crisis we’re in? Enter SME.

I first heard about SME in 2013 when a colleague and former international director of the SME board mentioned I should join. He told me it would be a great way to connect to other engineers and young professionals in the manufacturing community, so I joined. About a year and a half later, I was awarded the 2015 Dennis S. Bray Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, which was a great honor and also very meaningful. As an added bonus, my SME membership connected me with so many other professionals, not only my age but mentors that I’ve learned a great deal from over the years.

From there, I connected with so many universities and Fortune 500 organizations that really propelled my career to collaborate on so many projects with other like-minded manufacturing professionals. One of my favorite events is SME’s North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC). I really enjoy hearing all the paper presentations and new research and technology that comes out every year at this event. I also participated and was a finalist in two of the Blue Sky Competitions, which is a lot of fun and a great experience!

Just like the early days of the internet and even today, SME provides a way to connect with manufacturing professionals across the globe, leveraging a knowledge base that I otherwise would not have access to. And even though we’re nestled in our homes for the continuation of the crisis, we have a community we can rely on and be digitally connected to via SME Connect. So check it out, there’s a whole community there for you!

To learn more about your member benefits and encourage others to join, go to sme.org/membership-benefits.

Joel D. Neidig
CEO and Co-Founder, SIMBA Chain
Director of Research & Development, ITAMCO
SME Member Since 2014


SME helps manufacturers innovate, grow and prosper by promoting manufacturing technology, developing a skilled workforce and connecting the manufacturing industry.