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A vision of the 2030s

Manufacturing will become more complex as supply chains become interdependent, digital and international.  

Future manufacturing systems will be enabled by a large variety of digital solutions and intelligent data driven tools, which will result in the full digitisation of manufacture and sustainable resource management.

Responsive and agile manufacturing systems will emerge which, use innovative production techniques and rely on continuous measurement and product verification through digital or virtual methods.

Consumers will expect products and services to be personalised to their own needs and preferences.  

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What does this mean for manufacturing?

Digital design - All manufacturing will rely on digital design as product function, user requirements, materials properties, and processing and fabrication strategies flow from a single source.

Measurement will enable development of materials by design, virtualisation and product innovation through modelling.

Measurement will allow new parts and products to enter service safely without being subjected to a physical test.

Smart - Intelligent data driven tools will manage responsive, productive and efficient manufacturing systems, supporting the circular economy as resources become scarce.

Measurement will enable process analytics, help control manufacturing processes, enable rapid demand forecasting, and provide trusted data through digital certification.  

Examples include: smart contracts and distributed ledgers, virtual and augmented reality, autonomous and co-operative robotics, exoskeletons, increased productivity via human enhancement.

Materials - New materials will be adopted as advanced functionalities are realised and alternative sources become available.

Measurement will enable a deeper understanding of complex material behaviour, ensure safety regulations are in place and allow confidence in their widespread adoption.  

Examples include: materials for biomanufacturing, metamaterials, self-healing materials, improved membranes and adsorbent materials​, alternative sources (such as deep sea, space or asteroids), plastic reprocessing and natural replacements.

Innovation - Novel production techniques will support our continued technological development.

Measurement will enable virtual test and validation of products and manufacturing processes, application of precise engineering discipline to biological, medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the development of agile regulations. 

Examples include: multimaterial 3D print and build to order manufacturing, net-shape forming, low energy and plasmonic catalysis, production of high value nanoparticle-based products.

Personalisation - Products and services will be tailored to individual requirement as consumers come to expect more choice and bespoke products at no extra cost.

Measurement will enable flexible manufacturing facilities that allow multiple variations of products without loss of throughput.

Measurement will support AI-enabled data analytics to extract value from securely shared customer data.

Business models - A new paradigm in value creation will emerge as consumers consider the environmental and social impact of their choices, not just financial metrics. 

Measurement will provide trusted information and confidence in its source.

Manufacturing: implications for measurement

Metrology, or the science of measurement, is about more than the routine making of measurements, it’s about the infrastructure that ensures that we have confidence in the accuracy of the measurement or the adoption of technology. Foresighting has highlighted technological trends for metrology based on our vision for manufacturing:

  • Continuous measurement throughout the supply and manufacturing chain will be enabled by advanced imaging, sensors and monitoring.
  • Digital calibration certificates will be held on global distributed ledgers and, combined with digital and machine-readable standards and regulations, will enable virtual verification and calibration.
  • Digital product verification methods will be enabled by dynamic propagation of measurement uncertainty through performance models.

Discover more about The future of metrology

Other industries

Discover our vision for the 2030s.

More information

Find out more about Technology and Measurement Foresighting.

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