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Factory of the Future

In the modern factory, flexible manufacturing technologies facilitate efficient transition from ideas to finished products. Additionally, factories are demonstrating increasingly close communication with external organisations, receiving instructions to manufacture from within collaborating companies. In the industrial goods sector, global production networks are becoming predominant over hierarchical supply chains. This new interface must be continuously coordinated as the factory is transformed from a receiver of instructions to an open environment for cooperation between suppliers and customers. Flexible production and quick adaptation to technological innovation signify emergent aims supplementing the more traditional factory objectives of increased productivity and minimised costs. In the consumer market, demand is becoming increasingly heterogeneous; customer power is increasing. Therefore, suppliers and customers find themselves in close collaboration at an early stage in the development of a new product. All actors involved in the value creation chain become indispensable knowledge bearers; developers, manufacturers, further processors, and customers all benefit from this early mutual influence. Architecture carries the task of providing new spatial configurations which effectively facilitate these developments.

The factory of the future must be highly flexible to accommodate a wide range of floor layouts, production systems, alterations and extensions. Material flows are organised around mobile transport units, similar to the organisation of bits and bites on a circuit board. Robots are becoming increasingly affordable and flexible in their scope of application. In addition, industrial robots are gaining new capacities for use in the services and communications sectors. Robot mobility is improving too; robots are now capable of assisting senior technical staff to perform difficult or dangerous manual tasks. Further innovation is evident in the ease of adjustability of manufacturing and sales in response to changes in the order. Ultimately, the modern factory provides a space for agile adaptation, execution, and learning.

In the wake of mass customisation, supplier networks and commonly isolated sectors of expertise must maintain close communicate to economically manufacture parts customised for optimal performance.  One of the paramount attributes of a city is its capacity to facilitate meetings and exchanges between strangers. The most successful environments conducive to such exchanges can be extracted from existing metropolises. In this light, urban organisational systems can largely inform the factory of the future. By integrating urban approaches, the modern factory will feature production boulevards to generate awareness for continuous improvement of processes.  Unique cultures of expertise will interact on common levels; visitors and customers can discover a shared platform to report their experiences and present their ideas. Further, the factory of the future will embody a self-sufficient mechanism. It will be committed to the highest sustainable management of resources and energy. The era of highly pollutive, inefficient, and noisy factories belongs to the past. Central to this sustainable aim will be the utilisation of wind power, solar power, geothermal energy and biomass production. The factory of the future will be reminiscent of a power station which stores excess energy in the local power grid and acts as a buffer during energy peaks. These measures will be further supplemented by integrating closed water cycles and recycling raw materials.