Department of Defense
Rockwell Automation Technology Will Help Manufacture Human Tissue Organs

Rockwell Automation Technology Will Help Manufacture Human Tissue, Organs

Jan. 30, 2017
The company will work with the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute to automate the process of biomanufacturing human tissue and organs.  

Regenerative medicine, according to the Mayo Clinic is a “game-changing area of medicine with the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions and hope for people who have conditions that today are beyond repair.

"Regenerative medicine itself isn't new — the first bone marrow and solid-organ transplants were done decades ago. But advances in developmental and cell biology, immunology, and other fields have unlocked new opportunities to refine existing regenerative therapies and develop novel ones.”

Some of the advances are taking place in the biomanufacturing process of human tissue and organs. In that vein, Rockwell Automation announced last week that it  has been selected as a critical industrial automation partner in the Department of Defense’s new public-private Manufacturing USA initiative, the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI).

“ARMI brings together advances in manufacturing, biotech, medicine and life sciences to create new possibilities for those with immediate need for human tissue and organs,” said Blake Moret, CEO of Rockwell Automation.

Federal funding of $80 million will be combined with $214 million of contributions from a prominent consortium, including $10 million from Rockwell Automation, to innovate mass production of tissue and organ biofabrication

ARMI is tasked with developing next-generation manufacturing techniques for repairing and replacing cells and tissues, which may one day lead to the ability to manufacture new skin for soldiers scarred from combat or develop organ-preserving technologies to benefit Americans stuck on organ transplant waiting lists.

The institute is focusing on solving the cross-cutting manufacturing challenges that stand in the way of producing new synthetic tissues and organs—such as improving the availability, reproducibility, accessibility, and standardization of manufacturing materials, technologies, and processes to create tissue and organ products. Leaders from a multitude of disciplines, from cell biology and bioengineering to materials science and computer modeling are collaborating under the institute's guiance. The partners are working to develop high-throughput culture and 3D biofabication techniques to non-invasive, real-time testing and sensing to measure the viability of engineered tissue constructs.

Industry partners include: Abbott, Autodesk, Becton Dickinson, Celularity, DEKA Research & Development, GenCure, Humacyte, Lonza, Medtronic, Rockwell Automation, and United Therapeutics

Government and non-profit organizations include: FIRST, the State of New Hampshire, and Manufacturing Extension Partnerships in multiple states

And Universities and other schools include: Arizona State University, Boston University, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers, Stanford University, the University of Florida, the University of Minnesota, the University of New Hampshire, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale University

“This is literally a life-changing approach and adds a new chapter to medicine,” said Moret. “Our contribution is to integrate biomanufacturing science with production techniques that increase the capacity, speed, modularity and consistent quality of new tissue and organ production. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute our expertise to an initiative critical to the well-being of both civilians and service members.”

ARMI, which is the 12th Manufacturing USA institute is based in Manchester, New Hampshire, and integrates a diverse portfolio of industry practices and research to advance a robust biofabrication ecosystem.

Biofabrication is an innovative manufacturing industry segment at the intersection of biology-related research, computer science, materials science and engineering that creates innovations, such as biomaterial and cell processing.

The Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ATB-MII), a coalition of ARMI, will be led by Dean Kamen, chairman of ARMI and the founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which inspires young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

“Importantly, ARMI has plans to develop a new generation of skilled technicians within this growing industry,” said Moret. “Workers with the skills to compete and win in new industries are critical to the future competitiveness of our country.”

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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