The necessity for the development of new integrated products and services that will achieve a sustainable competitive advantage in the international markets becomes apparent especially in the manufacturing field, due to (a) specialized environmental and complex operational requirements (e.g. green labeling, recycling of materials etc.), (b) the increasing demands of modern society focused on eco-friendly, sustainable and socially responsible products, (c) the personalized, customized and specialized customer needs (e.g. nutrition, medical care), and (d) due to the aging of population. Furthermore, these needs are both the springboard for the transition of the industry in the framework of the “Factory of the Future”, and additionally for the improvement of the existing services and products via the utilization of new technologies. In fact, it’s a common belief that the intelligent and automated systems, as well as the intelligent data management are the key to a viable future that converges the digital and the real world.
In addition, the technological improvements with regard to the process of prototyping, by designing and simulating digital models of products, and the process automation at all stages of manufacturing, facilitate and create the appropriate condition for optimal and intelligent design and development of products that comply with the demanding needs of the customers. At the same time, the technological improvements in telecommunications and IT sector ensure the monitoring and control of the regular flow process that reduce time delays, while allowing the creation of “smart” products and automated procedures. Moreover, the integration of robotic systems, pioneering manufacturing systems and the adoption of innovative materials (e.g. composites, nanotechnology etc.) in various scientific fields play a significant role in “smart” product design.
By taking into account all the above emerging trends that are gaining rapid dominance both at European and global level, within the framework of the effort to improve global competitiveness, Greece is numbered among the relatively “reluctant users” of the example of the “Factory of Future”. This can be explained due to the fact that our country does not incorporate easily new technologies in comparison with other European countries. Consequently, this fact indicates the great distance that our country has to travel in the near future in order to facilitate the procedure of incorporation. Actually, new technologies, intelligent systems, innovative practices, intelligent infrastructures and the advanced technical equipment comprise the new reality regarding the socio-economic development and also the unimpeded growth of entrepreneurship, aiming for the environmental protection and the living standard quality improvement.
In this context, the main objective of the proposed project comprises the implementation of a contemporary and digital infrastructure in order to provide an intelligent and automated manufacturing system for the partners of CERTH. This objective will be achieved by utilizing the existing technical know-how and the available infrastructures, while introducing pioneering technological methods through the collaboration of the Institutes of CERTH. In particular, these infrastructures will function as an intelligent eco-system used for the optimal design and development of integrated products and processes, in order to ensure a regular transition of research and production activities of CERTH’s collaborating Institutes into the new modern technological framework of the “Factory of Future”. Additionally, the collaborators of CERTH (e.g. public sector, enterprises, industry, etc.) both in Greece and internationally will benefit due to the fact that the products and the research results of the current project will be introduced into the marketplace through the production lines.