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Manufacturing the products of the future
The Grand Societal Challenges generate the need for a wide range of products that should be manufactured at an affordable price. Manufacturing is therefore a key enabler technology to realise these products and solutions. Examples of this include: - Sustainable mobility requires the availability and cost-effective integration of new and affordable propulsion systems including hybrid/electrical solutions, and specifically new battery technologies. Correspondingly factories of the future will feature increasing flexibility with multi-propulsion production lines, maximizing the exploitation of plant capacity, implementing a high level of workplace ergonomics and safety, while using advanced materials, power micro-electronics, etc. - Improved recycling (re-manufacturing) solutions that address scarcity through the re-use of valuable materials in a cost effective way requires completely new types of factories. The scarcity of raw materials will mean that products of the future will have to be recycled to retrieve valuable materials. - Better home care for the elderly requires smarter electronic products which require the consumption of fewer materials and energy resources during their production. Key parts will become substantially smaller, while increasing automation is introduced by competing regions (e.g. Asia). Time, cost and quality require that these products be manufactured in Europe, close to the consumer and in urban environments. Furthermore, better medical care will include highly individualised pharmaceuticals produced, on demand, through advanced manufacturing in urban-pharmaceutical factories. - Sustainable energy through solar, wind and tidal power solutions and energy storage, requires advanced and competitive manufacturing capabilities. This will enable Europe to generate more sustainable energy and increase its energy-independence. The ‘Factories of the Future’ roadmap connects the Grand Societal Challenges with the manufacturing capabilities required within Europe to address them. In this context, key enabling technologies (KETs), including photonics, micro and nano-electronics, industrial biotechnology, and nano-materials, will be required to support the introduction of future products in the years ahead. The driving forces for new products are at the same time global (consumer electronics, connectivity, telecommunications, mobility, big data intelligence, solid state lighting…) and local, where local regulations and local market needs will push for products with specific requirements in a specific geographic area. In the European market, new specific requirements are arising due to environmental focus (e.g. green labelling, reduction of material waste), due to the new needs of the aging society and due to the customisation and personalisation of goods. Global competition requires the launch of new products with a shortened commercial life cycle and with a high degree of personalisation for adapting to individuals biometric parameters or for satisfying unique users’ preferences. On the other side, sustainability is pushing for an extension of the life cycle itself. This dilemma can be solved by highly personalised products through software functionalities, which can easily sustain high frequency of renewal, or by the design of products, processes and systems that allow the sustainable re-manufacturing and materials recycling Most of the industrial sectors which are crucial to maintaining manufacturing and jobs in Europe face the need to innovate products through the use of new materials and/or new functionalities, requiring manufacturing approaches that fully exploit the improved functionality and versatility of design. Service provisioning and enhanced functionalities in future products will also require the introduction of increased product intelligence, such as the increased use of embedded mechatronics in components, which will require the design and production methodologies to evolve as a consequence. Last but not least, the future factories themselves are to be considered as future products, including the consideration of user (worker) –experience in their design.
Complex structures, geometries and scale
Resource efficient, sustainable products
Addressing economic performance across the supply chain
Over the next decade, for a wide range of complex products, the holistic optimization of performance will push towards new multi-material and multi-functional solutions. This will result in a change in the manufacturing paradigm by introducing new methods and process technologies within the factory in order to ensure both the required quality and sufficiently high productivity to guarantee cost-efficient manufacturing. Economic sustainability will require a re-design of products and production processes respecting the manufacturing conditions and strengths of Europe. In turn this will imply maximising manufacturing efficiency by implementing, where adequate, automated, complex and precise manufacturing steps, which can be supported by advanced technologies and knowledge available in Europe. From the perspective of mass production, economic viability is also of fundamental importance. Solutions like the adoption of lighter and higher resistant materials such as titanium, carbon composite remain critical from a cost perspective, while material availability and new regulations concerning End of Life (EoL) already constitute significant challenges for Industry. To achieve solutions which are truly viable, the ratio of cost to performance must be reduced to improve global competitiveness. The assessment of manufacturing related cost and investment factors will be strategic for the selection and optimization of innovative product/process/system solutions. New appropriate cost modelling techniques are needed to evaluate the future cost of products manufactured either by existing or new technologies, considering future scenarios where market needs, production volumes and technology maturation cause the continuous evolution of product/process/system solutions. These challenges must be faced along the entire supply chain involving OEMs, components suppliers and SMEs due to the typical supply chain of a complex product.
Realising reconfigurable, adaptive and evolving factories capable of small scale production
Realising reconfigurable, adaptive and evolving factories capable of small scale production in an economically viable way, herewith facing better and promptly the uncertain evolution of the market or the effect of disruptive events. Manufacturing enterprises are pushed to take “glocal” actions: thinking globally but acting and staying economically compatible with the local context. This involves managing the transition towards new generations of products, allowing a stage of contemporary production of new and old products scaling up investments only when the market is proven (e.g. product with new functionalities by means of smart and reliable integration into conventional or new sub-components and materials). Upgradable, evolvable machine/cell/plants are key for flexible and responsive manufacturing. Also new organisational approaches and tools are required for manufacturing a mix of different products within the same cell/line/plan, optimising the internal and external logistics (including the supply chain) which usually becomes the real bottleneck when very flexible production capability is available. Highly flexible manufacturing processes, tools and systems will enable the manufacturing of smaller and more personalised batches. Novel industrial processes with an increased level of customisation, tailored for individual needs, involving the customer in the loop at the early step of design.
High performance production, combining flexibility, productivity, precision and zero-defect while remaining energy-efficient
High precision manufacturing and micro-manufacturing of complex products obliges precision manufacturing to increase with one order of magnitude the accuracy of machines and controls. This calls for introducing new material processing technologies - including cleaning methods – and novel measurement technologies. High performance production requires the increase in terms of speed, quality and reliability of existing manufacturing technologies. It calls for process monitoring and modelling or simulation approaches, associated with novel optimisation and maintenance strategies. Innovative manufacturing technologies should also be developed, increasing the value-creation of one single operation High performance production will be furthermore largely supported by introducing advanced mechatronics and embedding intelligence in manufacturing equipment. High performance production also involves the management and processing of ever growing volumes of data and information within the factory floor up to the supply chain level, reaching out to customers and workers.
Resource efficiency in manufacturing, including addressing the end-of-life of products.
Using less resources and re-using or recycling products or components of products is generating economic savings and is evidently reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing. This manufacturing challenge is addressed more in detail under environmental sustainability.
Innovative re-use of equipment
Increasing human achievements in manufacturing systems
Safe and attractive workplaces
Care and responsibility for employees and citizens along global supply chains
Reducing the consumption of energy, while increasing the usage of renewable energy
Reducing the consumption of water and other process resources.
Reduction of resources other than energy (materials, water, etc.)
Near to zero emissions in manufacturing processes
Optimising the exploitation of materials in manufacturing processes
Reduction of scraps (defective workpieces) and reworks
Co-evolution of products-processes-production systems
Co-evolution of products-processes-production systems or ‘industrial symbiosis’ with minimum need of new resources
Chris Decubber © 2018