Future of The Factory

The everyday experience of the factory is changing, as I4.0 technologies are transforming production, processes and working roles.

Digital transformation is revolutionising all aspects of manufacturing, and as a result changing the factory as we know it. The Industrial Metaverse is taking shape – a new ecosystem currently represented by the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and digital twins – and is leading the development of new manufacturing and service systems across the entire value chain.

Impact is being seen in reducing resource use while increasing factory output; raising efficiency while cutting greenhouse gas emissions; raising quality while reducing cost; and increasing customer satisfaction as well as reimagining employee engagement. Within this space, the mainstreaming and scaling of novel manufacturing concepts will be critical to seeing tangible results, along with the need to align progress with key factors for success: productivity, sustainability and resilience.

Creative Freedom in the Industrial Metaverse

The Industrial Metaverse unleashes a new era of creative freedom within manufacturing innovation.

The Industrial Metaverse has the potential to remove barriers around innovation such as costs, timelines and geography, alongside being fully integrated with the real economy and environment for accelerated implementation and impact. Companies who put their best ideas forward to embrace experimentation in the virtual world, will excel in transferring these learnings to be pragmatic first movers in the ‘real world’.

“I have had several discussions with big European companies in the past, and one of my questions would be “Do you try to use advanced digital manufacturing tools for modelling this specific process so that you can optimise the process, reduce the cycle time, and so on and so forth?”[Currently] we just limit ourselves to modelling the most critical process and not everything.”

Nikolaos Papakostas, University College Dublin

Collaborative Technology for Radical Servitisation

Manufacturing has been transformed, as companies are moving to service-centric business models and logic.

With no one-size-fits-all solution to servitisation, successful companies have followed an agile, incremental adoption of technologies aligned with their business strategy, while managing interconnections between implementation and organisational change. The higher the servitisation the better the performance, with use cases deeply connected to I4.0 technologies.

“What is also a big trend is this equipment as a service trend, where machine manufacturing companies start to not only sell their products, or their machines that cost maybe 500,000 euros, but you can just kind of rent it or subscribe to it as you know from the private sector, like with your Spotify subscription. If you don’t want it anymore, you stop subscribing. Having the same kind of logic applied to production equipment or machines is a big trend. Lots of people are thinking about how to do that.”

Martin Plutz, Oculaviz

Resilience through Non-linear, Distributed production

The development of EU-level value chains has evolved into an expansive network of localised, specialist manufacturers.

A landscape of localised, specialist manufacturers develops in response to the geopolitical landscape and sustainability goals, with companies now able to deliver value and compete. The model promotes designing globally while producing locally, leveraging digital manufacturing technologies, and highlights the opportunity for engaging directly with customers to shift from mass to personalised and on-demand production.

“You need to have parallel value chains, where basically you can have several suppliers that are based in different geographical areas. So that if something is affecting an area, it’s not affecting the other one. Probably a good deal of insourcing will also be required. You want to be sure that if everything goes bad, at least you have the capability to ramp up production in-house, or in the country where there’s some control.”

Roberto Saracco, IEEE