`Industry and manufacturing are changing with the advent of smart digital, autonomous and intelligent technologies. Values for manufacturers are changing from production to technological know-how and design; ownership models are changing from outright ownership to collaborative and long term partnership; media are continuing their shift from physical to digital; there is an increasing focus on distribution of work and service; and the partnership between the manufacturing sector and the technology sector is increasingly key. This shift is taking place in the societal and business context of the UK in the 21st Century. In order to harness the potential from this shift, the changes in human skills, capabilities and working environments needs to be considered, alongside the development and change in business models that underpin industry and innovation.

Changes to future industrial systems in the digital age demands funded research in order to ensure that the UK is well placed within an international context to respond to the challenges presented from industry and to implement new science and engineering into real world systems as quickly and effectively as possible.

The Network Plus: Industrial Systems in the Digital Age is funded by the EPSRC Manufacturing the Future challenge theme, addressing the area of Digital Manufacturing.  There will be a particular focus on ensuring that challenges addressed within the Network Plus are driven by the current and future industrial context.  The Network Plus is bringing together core colleagues from the Manufacturing, Digital Economy, Design, Human Factors and Business communities to build new collaborations between leading academics and industry partners. It will:

  1. Identify relevant elements from these existing activities to conduct international benchmarking and establish the UK lead in specific elements of relevance to Future Industrial Systems in the Digital Age;
  2. Enhance cross-sectorial learning and fertilisation; and
  3. Identify new, discipline-bridging, agenda-setting opportunities for feasibility studies leading to scientific insight and future platforms and funding applications from national and international funders.