Results in Engineering (Sep 2023)

The future of the technology-based manufacturing in the European Union

  • Awadesh Kumar Mallik

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19
p. 101356


Read online

The manufacturing industry tries to innovate always to cater to customer-oriented products. The digitization of manufacturing is revolutionizing the future of this industry. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is bringing down the labor cost, reducing the machine downtime, and overall increasing the production speed. A new technological trend like Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that uses computer algorithms based on available data and can improve or decide further, automatically, based on experience, without the need for prior programming commands. ML can improve daily processes for identifying bottlenecks, developing products, controlling quality, providing security to the industry, and using AI robotics in place of humans. On one hand, technologies like ML, AI, IIoT, new materials, photonics, and rapid prototyping are driving the manufacturing sector in adopting a future version of Industry 4.0, and on the other hand, the European Commission (EC) has defined a roadmap until 2050 or more, in achieving the sustainable goal of carbon-neutrality and complete digitalization with resilience across the European continent. However, it is challenging to match the planned and actual roadmaps to the future of the technology-based manufacturing industry. There are uncertainties about how the future will be shaped by technologies in the EU manufacturing industry, in the changing political, environmental and social world environment. Recognizing these difficulties, the current article consults the available literature on this topic to determine the factors that will characterize the future of the manufacturing industry across EU countries. The relevant information about the EU manufacturing sectors has first been collected from various sources like Eurostat data, the EC policy documents, manufacturing company's annual reports, research reviews, journal articles, EU Industry Days annual event, etc. Then the collected data were analyzed to gain insight into the future of the technology-based EU manufacturing industry in the context of the European Commission's outlined policies. Variable factors from different manufacturing sectors are presented from different EU member states and scenario analysis was used for understanding the possible future. It is concluded that the future does not lie in adapting to the changing environment but in creating the future by EU companies themselves - revolution must be met by revolution. Their early experiences and path dependency can be seen as stubbornness, which may act as formidable barriers to building new capabilities. Therefore, companies must step-wise integrate resources to create a new process, and new structure, with personnel motivation, that fits with the broader European context in the coming decades.