Changing market patterns are resulting in contemporary urban centres developing at the edge of cities close to transport links reducing the commercial occupancy in traditional city nuclei. Simultaneously, the working population continues to migrate towards cities for employment purposes. At a time when technological innovation is leading to an explosive rise in potential manufacturing capabilities, governments, both local and national, are enduring resiliency tests on their supply chains as a result of geopolitical and healthcare crises. The drive to next shore as a means of ensuring proximity to both demand and innovation enables manufacturing systems to be agile in their response to changing market demands. Vastly reducing physical distances within the supply chain increases manufacturing flexibility and closeness to the market. Furthermore, connecting the customer to the manufacturing systems serving their needs enables flexibility including adaptation and co-creation of products to suit the specific requirements of the local market.
Within the manufacturing field, technology is enabling greater levels of creativity and knowledge whilst simultaneously evaporating barriers. Material science, industrial and systems engineering, supply chain, data science and machine automation are the cornerstones of manufacturing and the speed at which they are developing has led to a renaissance in manufacturing. The use of online platforms for connection and crowdsourcing knowledge and creativity has further contributed to renewal and advancement. Manufacturing systems have traditionally been ideal environments for large MNCs to excel and preside over, however market demands are driving a renewed interest in local SMEs. The SME sector is a critical component in a vibrant economy; it tends to be the largest employer and a primary contributor to GDP. SMEs are central to a re-imaging of our manufacturing systems, in particular their local connection and ability to be flexible and adaptive when compared to their larger counterparts. This research examines ways to support and inform advanced manufacturing SMEs as they respond to new market realities and changing urban environments.
Researcher: Prof. Brian Donnellan, Dr. Grace Walsh, Dr. Niall Connolly