Resilience and the twin climate and digital transitions are driving an exceptional transformation process, and production systems are both drivers and subject of this paradigm shift. The size and the complexity of the associated challenges – such as the use of industrial data, the introduction of robotics, the de-carbonization, the transformation into a circular economy and the need for agility and responsiveness – demands novel approaches and requires steep changes in existing production systems. And although Europe’s industry is a world-wide technology leader in most manufacturing market segments, this position is constantly being challenged and, smaller countries like Portugal where “deindustrialization” was particularly deep, urgently need to reverse this process to be competitive, contribute to the European Green Deal and to social development. The current health challenge (e.g. COVID-19) highlighted the vulnerability of industries and showcased the importance of possessing flexible and reconfigurable production lines within a country or region. This crisis also demonstrated the dependence of European Industry on global sourcing.
The increasing number of interconnected devices through networks transformed several sectors, from agriculture to industry, but is crossing to other sectors like energy, healthcare and social care. IoT is the enabler for several other advances, such as data analytics, process digitalization/transformation, or data monitoring, increasing productivity and transparency.
In this context, Portuguese industry needs to find strategies for implementing cutting-edge technologies in different pivotal areas, namely advanced and conventional manufacturing systems and their digital counterparts, smart machinery and cyber-physical production systems, advanced robotics for manufacturing, advanced logistics and transportation systems for suitable production, and novel processes and personalised products for well-being to reply to demanding challenges.