SQI leverages ARMI membership to organize educational session on automation
“SQI has always had a focus on regenerative medicine and ARMI’s mission is to manufacture regenerative tissues. As a leader in the space, we want to be there where people are actually trying to make it happen at a commercial level.”
Mark Kleinschmit, Director of Research Strategy and Development at SQI
In a presentation co-sponsored by the Simpson Querrey Institute (SQI), Shannon Chan, associate engineer at Rockwell Automation, introduced the capabilities of automation and the basics of ladder logic — a programming language used in manufacturing and industrial applications.
Chan visited Northwestern University’s Evanston campus on Nov. 13 after a connection forged through the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI), a network of industrial, academic and nonprofit members seeking to develop large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues. Both Northwestern and Rockwell Automation are members of ARMI, and this was the first ARMI-related event hosted by the university. The Northwestern Master of Science in Robotics Program provided the space for the event and served as a co-sponsor.
“For ARMI and tissue engineering specifically, this presentation was more to show people to use that ‘quality by design’ aspect,” Chan said. “We want people to be designing their lab procedures with automation in mind, scale-up in mind, and that way it’s not as difficult to scale up once they’re ready for it.
“The main problem we have right now is that people don’t do quality by design and then we have to change their procedure and come up with ways of our own to mitigate the shortcomings of not being able to scale it up easily.”
SQI took the lead in arranging Northwestern’s membership with ARMI, a partnership that recently entered its second year. SQI and the Northwestern Initiative for Manufacturing Science and Innovation (NIMSI) provided the cash component of the membership, and benefits are available to all faculty members at the university.
“SQI has always had a focus on regenerative medicine and ARMI’s mission is to manufacture regenerative tissues,” said Mark Kleinschmit, SQI’s Director of Research Strategy and Development and Northwestern’s primary contact for ARMI. “As a leader in the space, we want to be there where people are actually trying to make it happen at a commercial level.”
Kleinschmit said membership benefits range from consulting services to discounted supplies or even free materials. Chan said Rockwell is planning to lend small versions of the “demo box” showcasing their automation system to ARMI members for a nominal fee. That would enable those collaborators to learn more about the coding and tagging techniques required to carry out complex manufacturing processes.
“Just being exposed to this network of members is beneficial and I think this is a good example of that,” Kleinschmit said.
Kleinschmit encouraged Northwestern faculty members to sign into ARMI’s membership portal and investigate the available benefits. He added that there is an ongoing open project call for ARMI members — a process which begins with a letter of intent and allows ARMI to play matchmaker to find ideal collaborators before the submission of a full proposal. This method links researchers to suitable industry partners.
“Communication between research groups is very difficult … so ARMI’s idea of using communication to actually fully bring together everyone will make this go a lot faster,” Chan said. “We will be able to produce these human organs and tissues quicker because we don’t have to all invent the wheel; we’re all inventing just a part of the wheel.”