European Commission is Funding Research on Mini Factories for Customized, Decentral Production

Logo_enAs part
of the Factories of the Future Call, the European Commission is focusing on
mini factories for customized products using local flexible production.

This is
a topic that I have researched for a very long time, staring with a large
research cluster during my old times at TU Munich (here some old paper:, and continuing with more recent research.

So it is
very interesting that the EU Commission now also is taking up this topic and
proactively is asking for proposals. In their call, they formulate future needs as follows:

Advanced production
and innovative systems are needed to enable ultra-fast and cost
effective manufacturing of fully customised products on the spot
and exactly at
the required time
. Innovative production solutions must be developed to bring
manufacturing operations closer in time and space to the final customer. In
addition, new factory concepts need to be developed like on-site factories or
factories-in-a container
, which provide instant manufacturing and customisation
services in retail environments.

mini-factories, addressing adaptation to customer needs at or near the point of
sales or use, will be characterised by fast ramp-up, small footprint and
reusability, and will be easy to handle and to set-up. Those production systems
should also include related new technologies for supply chain management,
product distribution and direct end-user interaction.


The call expects project results to have the following impacts:

  • Increased ability to rapidly follow the market dynamics by means of fast
    production and delivery of personalised final products.
  • Reduction of the time to market by 50%.
  • Cost
    reduction (around 30%) by decreasing lead times in product and process
  • Set-up
    and ramp-up time reduction (around 30%) for new processes and plant designs of
    the mini-factories.

This is
a really interesting field, and if anyone is searching for a scientific partner from a business school eager to join a consortium,
please let us know 🙂

By | 2018-06-14T06:50:12+00:00 Oktober 22nd, 2012|General, Research Studies, Technologies & Enablers|

About the Author:

Frank T. Piller is a Co-Director of the MIT Smart Customization Group at the MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and a chair professor of management at the Technology & Innovation Management Group of RWTH Aachen University, Germany, one of Europe’s leading institutes of technology. Before entering his recent position in Aachen, he worked at the MIT Sloan School of Management (2004-2007) and has been an associate professor of management at TUM Business School, Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Frequently quoted in The New York Times, The Economist, and Business Week, amongst others, Frank is regarded as one of the leading experts on strategies for customer-centric value creation, like mass customization, personalization, and innovation co-creation. His recent analysis of the crowdsourcing business model “Threadless” (co-authored with Susumu Ogawa), an innovative crowdsourcing business model in the fashion industry, has been elected as one of the Top-20 articles in MIT Sloan Management Review.