Manufacturing has entered a new age of production. This shift in the design and manufacture of goods is not the result of a single trend, but is driven by a broad range of complex and interconnected factors.

These influences range from advances in digital technologies and automation to climate change and market demands. The collective consequence is a shift towards design and innovation processes that are increasingly fast, open, collaborative and responsive.

As the world of manufacturing changes, the way factories are planned, constructed and operated will also change. They will need to become more flexible and adaptable, achieve better integration between buildings and processes, and be more resilient to economic and environmental shifts. Future factories will have to operate at higher material and energy efficiencies, while providing safe and healthy working conditions for an increasingly skilled and diverse workforce.

This report explores the future of the factory from three different angles: people, production and space.

  • ‘The Human Factor(y)’ looks at the growing impact of technology on the workforce, including automation and the diffusion of cyber-physical assistance systems.
  •  ‘Seamless Design and Production’ focuses on the growing use of big data, insights and smart machines to optimise production processes and enable greater customisation of complex products.
  • ‘Resilient and Adaptive Spaces’ focuses on the physical factory, looking at designs that are resilient to environmental risks as well as sustainable in their construction, operation and end of life disassembly.

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Rethinking the Factory