How will we work and manufacture in the future?

Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF

Technologies for Networked Manufacturing

All of the systems in a digital factory of tomorrow are interconnected. Production controls itself. All of the systems communicate with one another. Fortunately, the prediction of deserted factories in which only robots work has proven to be false: People have kept their jobs and guide and control operations creatively and flexibly. They control the manufacturing’s growing interconnectedness. They are adding the strength, precision and indefatigability of technical systems to their skills. Humans and machines are moving closer together in work areas. Their combined capabilities make it possible to shorten manufacturing cycles and increase the range of models of products. Manufacturing is becoming more flexible.

A great deal of research and development is still needed to make sure this works. We need technical assistance systems that enable humans and machines to work together safely in shared work areas. Not least, this division of labor is a response to the demographic trend: We are already suffering a shortage of young professionals. We will have to support the skilled labor we have with technical assistance systems that match their skills. We will thus enable them to work more capably and longer in workplaces designed for an aging workforce.

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