Urban manufacturing is not just good for companies
Mar 3, 2014
What strategies and concepts are required to ensure city-based manufacturing gives all its stakeholders added value? The Urban Production innovation network brings Fraunhofer IAO together with partners to develop new approaches for urban manufacturing.
Global trends such as the world’s growing population, ongoing urbanization and our increasing awareness that raw materials are a finite resource are forcing us to find ways to make how we live and work in future more sustainable. Achieving this will not be easy, but if the challenges involved can be overcome, every stakeholder stands to gain – from companies and their employees to cities and their inhabitants. New technologies are creating opportunities for new manufacturing concepts, even in our cities.
Companies that base themselves in an urban environment enjoy a host of advantages: access to a qualified workforce, increased flexibility in manufacturing capacity, shorter distances, cluster effects, and proximity to a pool of creative ideas. Urban manufacturing processes must be as efficient and emissions-free as possible – and this pressure to be lean, clean and green gives competitiveness a major boost. Moving manufacturing into the city can also be good for employees, since shorter commutes mean more scope for flexible working. This not only includes new part-time systems and arrangements that relax the boundaries between workspace and home environment, but also allows employees to take a more integrated approach to managing their work and private lives, for example when it comes to raising children, caring for dependents, or organizing leisure time.
Establishing a symbiosis between manufacturing companies and urban environments can lead to added value for all. A new innovation network, Urban Production, seeks to determine which strategies, concepts, processes and technologies will achieve this. In collaboration with industrial partners and local and regional bodies, Fraunhofer IAO is developing feasible action plans for urban manufacturing as well as solutions for how to successfully work up and implement these ideas. Companies and organizations interested in the project can join as partners at any time to benefit from its results and to share expertise with the other members.