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Common Vision for Formulated Product Industries
Industry 4.0 represents an opportunity to formulated product manufactures to accelerate product development, boost productivity, reduce costs, gain visibility of their end-to-end supply chains, unlock new business models and transform their relationships with suppliers, end-users and consumers. Formulated product manufactures tend to be upstream of industries such as automotive and aerospace who can also readily incorporate digital services and servitisation of their product offerings. This is far more challenging for manufacturers of formulated products. The Circular Economy is of particular challenge to formulation companies. A few niche businesses have developed sustainable formulated products harnessing the sustainability, ethical values and the environment attributes of their products as unique sell points, targeting conscious consumers who are aware of the issues and are prepared to compromise on product performance and price. Most product formulators have placed emphasis on the delivery of high performance to meet the critical application demands of downstream industrial end-users and consumers. In the 21st century both product performance and sustainability are becoming important in order to drive economic prosperity, competitiveness and sustainability. This represents a unique challenge to the formulated products industries, especially for application areas where it is difficult or impossible to comprise on product performance and compete in a global market, source low-cost renewable ingredients and/or where products can readily enter the ecosystem and environment after use.
Common Vision for 2030
Europe will lead the global path in the innovation and commercialisation of new sustainable formulated products that deliver radical effects and high-performance to downstream industries, end-users and consumers whilst optimising resource and energy efficiency and minimising adverse impacts on biodiversity and the environment.
Key Cross-Cutting Drivers and Trends Impacting Formulated Product Industries
The drivers and trends listed below are cross-cutting and are common to most EU-based companies operating in the formulated product industries. Whilst the context may vary from sector to sector, or indeed from product to product, the key driver and trends remain relevant.
Driver and Trends for New Product and Process Development:
- Reducing product lifecycles and faster product obsolescence is placing pressure on manufacturers to be far more responsive to changing end-user and consumer expectations
Rising demand from downstream end-users and consumers for products that deliver radical affects and high performance
- The need to reduce time-to-market for new product development and associated R&D costs. This includes the development of both new formulated products and their associated manufacturing processes
- Rising need for closer collaboration between end-users, consumers and suppliers for new product and process development. This is particularly important for the development of new business models and digital services
- Need for cross-sector collaboration to address shared industrial and technological challenges. This is particularly relevant to address challenges for sustainability of formulated products and the Circular Economy
- Rising expectation and need for customisable and personalised products that deliver far greater performance, radical affects and value for money to downstream industries, end-users and consumers
Drivers and Trend for Improving Overall Plant and Supply Chain Performance:
- Need to reduce operating and maintenance costs of plants and the overall end-to-end productivity of supply chains
- Need to rejuvenate existing legacy assets in Europe (e.g. production plants) to maintain and/or improve competiveness. This demands the adoption of both Industry 4.0 technologies and new advance processing techniques and technologies
- Need to improve responsiveness of supply chains to customer orders and reduce lead-times and costs
- Need to develop new revenue generating business models, shifting towards a service-orientated model
Drivers and Trends for Sustainability and the Circular Economy:
- Government drive towards Clean Growth and a Circular Growth, enabling better resource efficiency and the reuse of materials, ingredients and products across the whole supply chains in order to reduce pressure on the planet’s resources and life support systems
- Rising number of individuals and governments across the global who are aware of the level of pollution appearing in the environment (ocean, air and land) and the adverse impacting this is having on biodiversity, ecosystems and our own food chain
- Rising need to develop and/or gain have access to renewable and/or bio-degradable ingredients and packaging materials
- Consumers are increasingly using the Internet and Apps for ordering the products, goods and service they need. With the formation of ethical consumer groups, individuals will in the future be able to make informed purchasing decisions based on ethical values, price and product performance
Key Technological, Industrial and Societal Challenges and Opportunities Identified
The following cross-cutting challenges and opportunities have been identified by AceForm4.0 that are common to industries operating in the formulated products space:
- Reducing time-to-market for new product development through the adoption of new digital technologies including robotics, high throughput testing technologies, artificial intelligence, data analytics and access to in use product performance data. This includes using digital technologies to better predict physical and chemical properties, product stability, toxicity, performance, safety and environmental sustainability of new formulations before they are prepared for lab-scale testing and hence enable innovation of sustainable formulations that deliver radical effects
- Integrated design and scale-up of manufacturing processes to enable rapid and smooth transition from lab-scale formulations through small-scale pilot-line and finally to production scale facilities through the use of advance digital modelling, simulation and visualisation technologies and ensuring exact correlation between lab-scale and production scale properties and performance
- Development of new economic viability methodologies and improvement in existing lifecycle assessment models methodologies to better assess the wider environmental, societal and economic impact of formulated products during the early stages of the product development cycle and hence help drive Europe towards a Circular Economy
- Production and sourcing of sustainable active ingredients, fillers and bulking agents to enable reformulation of existing products and/or development of new sustainable formulated products that deliver radical effects, performance and yet will enable the transition towards a Circular Economy. This includes the development of bio-based ingredients and materials
- Development of new batch, continuous and process intensification techniques and technologies that will improve manufacturing lead times, boost resource efficiency, reduce energy utilisation and offer greater scalability, product customisation, and flexibility and enable distributed manufacturing
- Development of new in-line digitally enabled metrology technologies and equipment to accurately measure, predict and control manufacturing processes in real-time, under harsh conditions, to ensure product quality and consistency, improve resource efficiency by reducing waste of raw materials, reduce energy utilisation and for continuously capturing processing and manufacturing data for analysis
- Development of digital twins for smart factories and supply chains to providing manufactures with a complete digital footprint of their production facilities in order to enable the prevention of operational issues, improved overall productivity, reduce maintenance costs and predicting plant performance under different operating scenarios
- Development of new revenue generating business models in partnership with downstream customers and consumers, which includes capturing in-use product performance data that can be harnessed for product development and new digitalise service offerings
- Reducing and preventing the release of harmful chemicals, ingredients and product packaging into environment and ecosystem to reduce pollution of the air, ocean and soils and the hence mitigate the growing adverse effect on bio-diversity, the food chain and human health as well as to drive Europe towards a Circular Economy
- Engaging and embracing the increasing number of highly informed consumers who are aware of environmental and potential toxicity risks associated ingredients used in formulated products. Consumers are increasing using digital technologies (APPs) via mobile devices, social media, brand names, information published by specialist consumer associations to determine ingredients used and help make purchasing decision