The strategic key for European Manufacturing “Factories of the Future” is to invest in the production of high-quality technical products and/or services welcoming transformation of the manufacturing industry into a high added value and knowledge-based industry, which is competitive in a globalised world. As a result, the manufacturing vision needs to be renovated and enriched: the production environment needs to be deeply evolved compared to existing reality, also in everyone system conceptual frame.
Nowadays, there is a concentrated effort in scientific world to find alternative sources of energy. Emphasis is on renewable energy like wind, solar, hydrogen, etc. However, it is also a reality that these alternative energy sources are not available in immediate future. For these reasons efforts must be made in the industrial sector to seek modus operandi that could, on the short to medium term, minimize the damage caused by the use fossil fuels. Within this context, one of the most important solutions is the promotion of a more rational use of energy or, in other words, increasing the energy efficiency of industrial processes.
During the last decades, pushed by eco-oriented policies and standards, the European manufacturing industries has seen a clear path of introduction of new technologies within the production environment (or on its boundaries) conceived to reduce energy consumption, recycle wastes or filter emissions. However, in the majority of those cases, “production is still the king”, and waste and emissions considerations are rarely included during design phase or in the planning, scheduling and control procedures.
It is under this context that Factory-ECOMATION main high-level objective is to conceive, define, design and demonstrate, through adequate industrial pilots, a new paradigm of factory where energy, emissions, and environmental-related aspects in general, are considered and included into the structure and management of the factory itself, at the same level and with the same importance of traditional criteria such as productivity and products quality.
Our idea of “Factory of the Future” is based on a concept of complete integration of its constituting elements: production machines, energy recovery systems, emissions abatement equipments, and the corresponding flows on which they act, be they related to energy, materials, wastes, finished products or emissions. The reason behind this approach is to jump beyond the limits imposed by each single technological improvement taken on its own, by leveraging and exploiting the potential synergies guaranteed only through their coordinated interactions.
In Factory-ECOMATION factory each input and output flow will be put on the same level, transforming, at the same time, its high-level targets; in practical terms, throughout the entire design, monitoring, analysis, management and control of the factory, the input-energy, materials, output-products, wastes, wasted-energy and emissions flows will be included under a unified vision, in which potential transformation among them will be analyzed and considered for the computation of the real performance of the factory.
By following this new paradigm, Factory-ECOMATION envisioned model of factory embraces the capability to be: self-conscious, in the sense of being able to perceive, monitor and analyze the whole set of flows characterizing the production environment, and the ensemble of events which change their normal patterns; predictive, in order to optimize its management and control strategy under productivity and eco-friendliness constraints; adaptable at multiple levels to enable the responsiveness to unforeseen occurrences; and sustainable, through the integration of state of the art technologies to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions.
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