Series: upcoming challenges for smart manufacturing (1)

Eduardo Beltrán de Nanclares, Chairman of the Cluster SMART on advanced manufacturing, flexible automation, virtual factories, zero defects manufacturing, eco-sustainable factories and servitisation.

With approximately 20 industrial sectors, manufacturing forms the backbone of the economy of many European countries. Manufacturing is a vital area, whose role is increasingly seen as fundamental for European recovery and sustainable growth.

The so-called megatrends as well as the economic turbulences influence the development of manufacturing. Ageing, environmental impacts, customisation, urbanisation, high demand of energy and raw materials or knowledge generation and sharing will change future products and the competitiveness of the industry. It is now time to start action with long-term strategic perspectives.

Flexible automation

Manufacture customised products with productivities and margins comparable to mass production, using flexible and automated manufacturing systems.

Virtual factory

To shorten the time to market, reduce costs and minimise incidents and errors in the launch cycle of new products through product-process modelling and simulation in the entire value chain (design, manufacturing, assembly, operation, dismantling, etc.).

Zero defects manufacturing

To achieve “zero defect” processes, we must integrate techniques for part characterisation, advanced monitoring technologies, techniques for managing defects, analysis of data and support for decision-making.

Eco-sustainable factory

Minimise the impact of productive plants in their environment by reducing energy consumption, consumption of raw materials, emissions, pollutants, noise, etc., and improving working conditions. This includes actions like recovering and revaluing materials, minimising energy consumption and energy recovery and ensuring worker health and safety.


Generate alternative sources of income regarding services associated with equipment and tooling. We must identify, design and implement the technological value proposition, including a service monetisation strategy to optimise its profitability. This challenge takes into account the extended product concept, which includes the physical product itself along with a layer of value added services.