Better Factory

art driven innovation

At first, the investments in automation focused on optimising resources and costs and converging towards ever more Lean Production. However, as the manufacturing value‐chains started to go global and complex, Lean Production cannot react swiftly to market volatilities. These volatilities stem from factors like geopolitical changes, disruption of supply chains, emergence of new technologies, shorter product lifecycle, and are further compounded by increasing customer demands for personalization and customization. To swiftly react to these volatilities, manufacturers started to look for more agility in their factories. In last decades, a significant public and private investment has been made in the development of several enabling technologies for Agile Production. Many large manufacturers have successfully implemented these technologies to hit an optimal combination of Lean‐Agile Production. Today, many products1 can be personalized to the very last detail for individual customers on the same production line with no impact on the production cost. However, for Manufacturing SMEs to adopt optimal Lean‐Agile Production and enter the market with new or personalized product and services, they face several challenges:

‐ Before adopting new business models and investing into factories for new or personalized products, SMEs need to reinvent their products for customization, around the core value proposition of the product and around the core knowledge of the SME. Focused on the quality and technical features of their current products, they do not have the resources, knowledge and methodologies to involve artists and take a creative step forward to remodel their products, reshape their services and redefine their business models. (Creativity challenge)

‐ To produce batches of new and personalized products, alongside existing products SMEs will require more from their factories. Factories shall operate as fully connected Lean‐Agile cyber‐physical‐systems, minimizing the use of resources (energy, waste, logistics, area, equipment, inventory, etc.), and simultaneously reconfiguring collaborative and mobile robots (optimizing Human‐Robot‐Interaction for new worker, material flow, product needs) while maintaining quality, delivery, time, etc. For any new product this happens automatically and seamlessly. So, today technology can deliver fully automated factories that achieves both a high throughput and a consistently high quality, with a high degree of decisional autonomy to self‐organize the production. However, lack of standardized, open and ready solutions are critical constraints for Small Technology suppliers to provide and for SMEs and Mid‐Caps to adopt Lean‐Agile production paradigm. (Lean‐Agility challenge)

‐ Transformation process of a conventional factory into a Lean‐Agile Production facility requires the transformation of organisational design and enterprise architecture that embrace convergence of multiple advance technologies i.e. Robotics, Data Analytics, Factory Digital Twin, Operational Technology and Information Technology. In contrast to Lean Production, where each worker is specialized and focused on minimum set of tasks, in Agile Production workers have significant awareness of the entire manufacturing process. This necessarily requires strategic thinking, simulation, planning and re‐skilling, thus involving competences that are scarce in the manufacturing SMEs. (Skills challenge)

 ‐ Leonardo Da Vinci is probably the most prominent example, how arts drive science and science drive arts and a combination of these drive innovation. The artists can spur new innovations on the path to digital transformation with manufacturing SMEs, as well as explore new horizons with Technology suppliers. Yet, full exploitation of these unpredictable innovations will rely on the access to finance4. However, SMEs do not have same easy access to funds as compared to large enterprises. Same is true for small technology suppliers who are looking to scale up their innovations and for Artists who seek to expand their creative frontiers. (Investment challenge)

In the face of these challenges Better Factory aims to provide an integrated innovation framework and a European network to deliver a standardized solution for Manufacturing SMEs to invent and manufacture new and personalized products and create services around them