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Arup report anticipates the future of manufacturing

Charlotte S Charlotte Schofield UKMEA Press Office,Leeds
15 June 2015

Arup launches ‘Rethinking the Factory’, a report exploring the emerging trends, processes and technologies that are transforming the manufacturing landscape.

The report examines how the introduction of new technologies such as 3D printing, self-cleaning and self-healing materials, human-robot collaboration will lead to faster, more efficient and environmentally friendly production.

While many believe robots will replace humans in the factories of the future, the report, developed by Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation and Science and Industry teams, suggests collaboration between the two will be key.

Beyond machines, new materials have the potential to improve the production process and increase product performance. A variety of self-healing and self-cleaning materials are being developed – such as bio-inspired plastic that replicates the strength, durability and versatility of a natural insect cuticles – which are capable of repairing damage without human intervention. These technologies will extend the lifetime of manufactured goods and reduce demand for raw materials.

The design of the factory will also be more focused on consumer experience, utilising the factory as a showroom. The concept of the ‘transparent factory’ will gain increased importance as more people get involved in making products or as they expect closer insight into how products are manufactured, especially at a customised level. The opportunity for factory owners and operators lies in adapting their existing spaces to enable these types of experiences to take place.

The convergence of the physical and digital worlds means that manufacturers have to continue to adapt and adopt new processes quicker than ever before. While developing sustainable and resilient practices will be essential, having access to a skilled pool of workers will prove to be equally important and challenging as these changes are made. As such, it is critical that companies and policy-makers have a comprehensive understanding of the changing manufacturing landscape. ” Duncan White

Rethinking the Factory is part of Arup’s ‘Future of…’ series that envisages the possible futures by highlighting innovations from around the world. Previous reports include the ‘Future of Highways’‘Future of Rail’‘Cities Alive’ and It’s Alive’

For further information on the ‘Rethinking the Factory’ please download the report.