An assistant professor from West Virginia University played a key role in the release of a report that makes recommendations for the future of manufacturing.
Thorsten Wuest, J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellow and assistant professor in the Department of industrial and management systems engineering, served as a member of the editorial board for the 2018 World Manufacturing Forum Report. Released today (September 27) at the Forum’s annual meeting in Cernobbio, Italy, the white paper outlines the current state of manufacturing in numbers, societal megatrends and manufacturing challenges to discover what actions are needed in the journey of achieving the future-oriented development.
Wuest, who was responsible for identifying, recruiting and interviewing experts to gather their insights which shaped the report, said there were certain aspects of the report that piqued his interest. One dealt with changing perceptions toward over-extraction and scarcity of natural resources.
“As the world becomes more industrialized, we are facing a scarcity of natural resources,” Wuest said. “While this places our environmental well-being in jeopardy, general industry and resource-related industries are also placed at risk for over-extraction. The demand for resources, energy and water will have massively increased demands, making the most basic of resources scarcer and the challenge of sustainable living even harder. However, in selected cases, we are experiencing an increase in economically and technically accessible resources globally, which might require us to shift the motivation for more sustainable practices from mainly externally driven to a more intrinsically motivated approach in the long term.
“Developing countries have a different perspective on sustainability and energy use,” Wuest continued. “Their main objective may be to first electrify all their villages vs. installing LED lights instead of traditional light bulbs in an effort to save energy as would occur in the developed world. We have to reflect these different needs in our policies to be fair yet effective.”
The report notes renewable energy, better industrial practices and technological developments in resources extraction as being key to resource extraction becoming more efficient and yielding more product and less waste as well as increasing the overall amount of economically and technically accessible resources.
Other key recommendations in the report are the need to strengthen and expand infrastructure to enable future-oriented manufacturing, design and production of socially oriented products, exploration of the real value of data-driven cognitive manufacturing and development of effective policies to support global business initiatives.
“Our vision for the future of manufacturing needs to be more disruptive and brave,” Wuest said. “Just as Google disrupted a whole industry by providing universal access to information to virtually everyone, the question is how can we provide this type of access to manufacturing capabilities to the ‘regular Joe’?”
WMF, a partner of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, aims to reinforce its mission by enhancing the industrial culture worldwide and, most importantly, to promote a prosperous future for all. A prestigious, invitation-only event, the WMF annual meeting provides a forum for global policy experts, industrial leaders and eminent academic and research innovators to address and discuss the challenges and trends in global manufacturing.
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