New challenges, new drivers
As the Observatory began its work, it identified three issues to be resolved in factory transformation that will allow industry to become more sustainable:
An accelerating globalized market
Competition is global, borders have disappeared and the business community now plays on a field that spans the globe, only part of which it can see with any clarity. This has created an increasingly competitive and volatile climate where industry leaders are forced to become more competitive and improve their performance.
Industrialists are also being caught up in a trend where market demands are accelerating and epitomized:
- on one side, they have to be ready to come to terms with changing market conditions, which mostly translates into the availability of the resources they need to manufacture.
- on the flipside, consumers now have real-time access to an unlimited offer anywhere they want. It used to be that products were accessible in the standard places and it limited consumer choices, but now they expect a market that can meet their special and custom requirements. Needs have diversified.
Natural resources are stretched
The Rio Earth Summit in 1992 broadened the scope of performance beyond a purely economic construct. At a time when natural resources are becoming scarcer and climate change is the opponent, the environmental aspect is now a crucial factor of performance in the business world. The production-driven activity of industrialists is impacting the environment, so they are always looking for ways to create a smaller footprint and set new objectives on energy transition.
An unattractive industry removed from the real world
Especially in France (click for the poll), industry in developed economies suffers from a negative reputation and it is most obvious among young people, who rarely choose a career in this field. That said, working conditions have improved considerably. The plant of the future does not have to exclude humans, on the contrary: it should give us a key role in production because the technologies will relieve us from tasks that are repetitive and labor-intensive.
Emerging technologies are overcoming these new challenges and providing a host of opportunities to rethink industrial plants, paving the way to a new industry:
- NITC and the digital revolution: built-in sensors, connected machines and products, online communications, mobile devices, virtualization
- New materials: composites, nanomaterials, etc.
- New production techniques: additive manufacturing, metal casting, etc.
- "Combinatorial processes": recovery, integration, etc.
- Human reinstated in industrial plants: cobotics, augmented reality, etc.