Future Manufacturing Pathways in Europe
Manufacturing in Europe is seeing tremendous attention both in terms of R&D efforts and also in terms of increasing capacity for innovation. The importance of this sector in Europe is accentuated by the fact that almost 80% of Europe's exports are manufactured goods. Also, with nearly 2 million enterprises and 33 million jobs associated with this sector, Europe's competitiveness is highly dependent on the ability of this sector to florish using the latest advances in ICT.
Recognising the potential for innovation, the European Commission (EC) is paying a lot of attention to uplift the European's manufacturing sector, either by providing support for the development and adoption of advance technology solutions or by implementing necessary measures that enable European manufacturers to compete with the rest of the world.
On 15th May 2019, representatives from EFFRA (European Factories of the Future Research Association) along with the representatives from FoF (Factories of the Future) and DT (Digitising and Transforming European Industry and Services) projects organised an open webinar to raise awareness and promote the outcomes of 7 FoF and DT projects funded by the European Commission.
The webinar titled "Future Manufacturing Pathways in Europe" focused on highlighting the value propositions of the 7 innovation projects (funded by the EC) and how they were addressing the specific digitalisation and technology needs of manufacturing communities across Europe.
The webinar also provided an opportunity to elaborate the vision of ‘hyperconnected factories’ and the pathway towards an open smart factory ecosystem in Europe. The definition of a pathway enhance the awareness among manufacturing companies regarding the use of digital technologies and to equip them with the knowledge to make informed decisions regarding technology and business model choices.
As shown in the figure below, the first levels of the HyperconnectedFactories pathway displays a (digitalisation) level where multi-purpose digital tools are progressively implemented and complemented by dedicated tools that are operating in silos within the company. In this pathway, communication with other companies is primarily done by e-mails and attachments until reaching Level 4, where dedicated IT connections (such as private industrial networks) are established among a selection of long-term value chain partners. This pathway leads to Level 5 where dynamic IT connection can be established with new business partners or suppliers.
In this respect, the pathway features a plausible causal chain of steps leading from the current state to the desired future. The pathway also indicate how research and innovation projects contribute to the future deployment of digital platforms.
The joint webinar on 15th of May provided a mapping of existing FoF and DT projects with the Hyperconnected Factories pathway, highlighting the innovation areas and user needs targetted by the outcomes of each project.
The video recording of the webinar is available below:
 Hyperconnected Factories Pathway: https://www.connectedfactories.eu/hyperconnected-factories-pathway