Manufacturing is the backbone of Europe’s economy. Nearly one in 10 (9.2 %) of all enterprises in the member states of the EU’s non-financial business economies were classified as ‘manufacturing’ in 2012, a total of 2.1 million enterprises. The manufacturing sector employs around 30 million people, and EU countries generated EUR 1.525 billion of added value in 2015. State-of-the-art manufacturing technologies are even more important.The European Factories of the Future Research Association considers “Manufacturing [as] an indispensable element of Europe’s innovation chain: Manufacturing enables technological innovations to be applied in goods and services, and is key to making new products affordable and accessible“. Merging SSI solutions and progress in production technology will deliver sustainable and inclusive growth by creating and ensuring competitive jobs in Europe, as well as supporting a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improved energy use by efficient production.
In 2017, EPoSS published its latest Strategic Research Agenda in which experts have developed roadmaps, set milestones and defined actions to be taken in different domains, including the manufacturing sector, until 2030. This document therefore constitutes an important basis for joint activities in the area of SSI, and thus will be essential for shaping the future landscape of smart systems research. This is particularly important because of the imminent change foreseen to come in the factory and manufacturing domain through the introduction of new technological and organisational solutions in synergy with advanced integration of SSI and information and communications technology (ICT) solutions.