The conversation on cutting edge manufacturing has positively shifted from challenges to opportunities. The conversation isn’t about new technologies in factories of the future alone, but about new ways to benefit consumers, respect sustainability, use resources efficiently and improve safety and functionality. And the factory of the future is characterized not by the application of just one technology, but a full set of technology systems stitched together for maximum impact – tools, equipment, innovation, materials, processing, post-processing, supply chain, etc.
We explored opportunities for Blockchain in future supply chains. In this session, Blockchain was depicted not as a holy grail but part of a symphony of technologies with transformative potential, for example, by creating macro-economic transformation by linking SMEs directly with major manufacturers in way that has not been possible before, reducing risk in supply chain finance, enabling consumers to make more conscious choices, and changing the boundaries of the firm in ways that have implications for government.
Traceability is key for sustainable manufacturing. The journey of products is fragmented in terms of information and organization. More information is required to trace and monitor raw materials and every single step of the transformation process as well as to respond to an increasing demand on transparency from consumers. To build the transparency needed to introduce new sustainable technologies and assess production systems. Companies need to explore data interconnectivity options, how to share data effectively and how to address concerns about data sharing.
The value of data is not the data itself but how you use it. There is importance not only in generating and keeping data, but also in sharing it across stakeholders. The production community needs to find ways to share and analyse non-sensitive data to enable a smarter production system. Data is better when used collectively. Using it in a siloed way creates redundancies and wastes resources from companies. Rules and governance around the use of data should be created.
Advanced factory sites or Lighthouses are truly resetting the benchmark in manufacturing: Their digital production systems allow doing continuous improvements: 1) from hypothesis-driven problem-solving to data-driven problem-solving, 2) democratization of the shop-floor, 3) address new use cases at minimum incremental cost. They have achieved this because: 1) they have had a clear strategy, 2) they deploy an IoT architecture which allows combination of use cases, 3) they are focused on capability-building.
Partnership is a key ingredient of new business models. Partnering can be the defining characteristic of new business models within advanced manufacturing. One possibility includes considering customers as allies to develop the next generation of products. The key is generating the right incentives and channels to make their voices heard. Another alternative is the potential of having different businesses establishing IP-sharing partnership models around new product development.
New ways of collaboration are required to ensure the successful implementation of sustainable manufacturing technologies, and these collaboration efforts can be led by governments at a local or regional level. Regions and cities can lead the change to adopt new sustainable technologies and innovate and lead the transformation. To succeed, the public sector needs to lead the clusters and offer incentives to enable technology deployment.