Factory operation set for big changes, says Arup16 June 2015

Manufacturing has entered a new age of production, according to consultancy Arup. It said in a report called 'Rethinking the Factory' that this shift in the design and manufacture of goods was not the result of a single trend, but was "driven by a broad range of complex and interconnected factors".

According to the report: "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."

The company added: "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."

Duncan White, science and industry leader at Arup, said: "The convergence of the physical and digital worlds means that manufacturers have to continue to adapt and adopt new processes quicker than ever before."

He added: "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."

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

Ian Vallely

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