Page 37 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2016 publication
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Spring 2016 European Energy Innovation     37


This new coordinated approach              will enable innovations like virtual
must boost the application of              manufacturing, customer-centric
advanced communications systems to         production, 3D printing and virtual
conventional manufacturing processes,      production networks, and circular
making them more flexible, efficient       supply chains for resource efficiency to
and responsive. In other words it has to   become commonplace.
fully embrace "smart manufacturing".
                                           I believe that the European Union
This transformation will be possible       is well aware of the opportunities
due to Cyber-Physical Systems, also        and challenges, and in this regard,
known as “Industry 4.0” or as “The         "Industrie 4.0", "Usine du Future",
Industrial Internet of Things. In the      "Smart Industry", "High Value
context of manufacturing it will imply     Manufacturing" and "Fabbrica
a combination of Smart Machines,           Intelligente" are just a few of the 20
Smart Materials and Smart Products,        initiatives that exist around Europe
all of which are interconnected and        to use advanced ICT to transform
generate continuous data that is           Europe's industrial heritage and future.
collected, processed and analyzed in a     However, we must avoid the risk of
central location.                          fragmentation from all these national
                                           initiatives in order to fully exploit the
Making our manufacturing “smart”           digital transformation of Europe's
will effectively transforms factories      industry.
from traditional cost centers into high-
performance plants, fully optimized in     In addition, much more must be done,
their use of direct material inputs as     as policy makers we must incentivize
well as their use of energy. It will help  investments in infrastructure geared
improve production costs and quality,      to connecting the unconnected while
while minimizing natural resource          establishing a balanced and consistent
use, and energy consumption.               regulatory approach to electronic
Only in energy terms, according            communications that promotes
to #SMARTer 2030 report, industry          innovation and investment, protects
smart manufacturing solutions have         intellectual property rights and ensures
the potential to create global energy      consumer privacy and security.
savings of 4.2 billion MWh and could
abate 2.7Gt CO2 emissions.                 Lastly, the responsibility of fully
                                           seizing all the potential of the digital
We are none the less still far away. A     revolution lye in everybody's hands
recent Accenture survey in this area       and the private sector has a great
showed that a little over a third of       role to play. Business leaders must
companies currently apply automation       drive investments in ICT uptake and
technology, thus showing the current       cooperate with other sectors and
low rate of ICT adoption among             explore ICT-enabled revenue and cost-
manufacturers.                             saving opportunities.

Several technological barriers must        Even more than in other sectors of
be overcome before a truly smart           the economy, regarding industry first
manufacturing operation can be             movers have a great competitive
realized. If we manage to overcome         advantage, let us not lose this
these barriers, Smart Manufacturing        opportunity for Europe. l
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