Factory 2.0 Philosophy
Decline in the manufacturing base in such former economic ‘powerhouse’ countries as the USA and most of Northern Europe has come about partly as a result of the rise of low-cost manufacturing capacity in developing states such as China and India. As the former have become service-based economies, they have found it difficult to maintain standards of living for their citizens (Fox 2010).
Due to the lack of manufacturing infrastructure, these countries are obliged to have things made elsewhere and transported long-distance (e.g. from the Far East) with attendant economic and environmental costs
Perhaps a solution to this conundrum is to decentralise design and production, thereby enabling people to create their own goods and services via modern technology (Fox 2010).
Factory 2.0 and Web 2.0
Factory 2.0 is a system whereby, using the global communication facilities of the internet, specifically Web 2.0 (the latest generation of the world wide web), designers can be matched with manufacturers and, equally importantly, each other, irrespective of geographical location.
Rather than being obliged to select products from pre-ordained catalogues, users of Factory 2.0 are able to design their own goods and select appropriate manufacturing facilities for their production. The upshot of all this is a change from individual manufacturers developing and marketing specific specialist products to a web-based community that allows tailor-made production of individual designs to service the needs of individuals in the marketplace (Fox 2010).
Web 2.0 is popular with professional designers, manufacturers, suppliers and customers due to its all-encompassing ability to put people in contact with each other and learn from one another. Social networks such as Facebook and Youtube have spawned new ways of interacting and sharing of information. More than 75% of respondents in a recent study of upper management of companies thought that they would increase usage and investment in Web 2.0 in the future (Betts 2010a).
Web 2.0 communications allow shorter lead times for design and manufacture of new and complex products. A secondary benefit is simplified, and therefore faster shipping of the finished product. Finally, assembly of products using a large number of small components can be optimised (Betts 2010b).
Advanced manufacturing technologies (AMTs) linked via Factory 2.0 can effect the whole of the process from concept to finished product using digital information. Optimisation of energy usage, both through more efficiency use of machinery and transport are another benefit that can be gained (Fox 2009).
The emerging processes of 3d digital printing and auto diecasting may now be controlled remotely via Web 2.0 facilities, enabling people to control their designs digitally from anywhere in the world (Jemicz 2012).
Factory 2.0 is the means by which those western countries which have seen declines in their manufacturing capabilities can once again make their own products without the necessity to rely on the Far East (Jemicz 2012).
Betts, B (2010a) Personal digital fabrication brings the factory home. E&T Magazine [Online], 8 (6) June. Available from: <http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=5499186> [Accessed 01 November 2012]
Betts, B (2010b) Online collaboration: a web of industry. E&T Magazine [Online], 5 (16) October. Available from: < http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2010/16/online-collaboration.cfm > [Accessed 01 November 2012]
Fox, S (2009) Manufacturing goes online as Factory 2.0. E&T Magazine [Online], 4 (15) September. Available from: <http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2009/15/advanced-manufacturing-technologies.cfm> [Accessed 01 November 2012]
Fox, S (2010) Manufacturing in a post-industrial world. E&T Magazine [Online], 8 (5) May. Available from: <http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2010/08/post-industrial-world.cfm> [Accessed 01 November 2012]
Jemicz, N. (2012) Factory 2.0 Philosophy & Analysis. Engineering Control Systems & Management. [Internet Blog] Available from: http://nickjemicz.wordpress.com/wireless-sensor-node/ [Accessed 01 November 2012]