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InterAct Blog

Workshop insights: International Perceptions and Megatrends of Manufacturing

I recently attended a workshop on international perceptions and megatrends in manufacturing. Hosted by Aston Business School, it featured various experts and practitioners sharing their insights on the current manufacturing landscape and the strategies required for its positive future. The research team (Dr Guendalina Anzolin, Dr Jennifer Castañeda–Navarrete, Dr Dalila Ribaudo and Yanan Wang) included researchers and practitioners from Aston Business School and the Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge. The research is funded by InterAct, a network led by the Economic and Social Research Council and Made Smarter UK.

Initial findings from the research

During the event, the project team shared some initial findings from their research. This has involved a systematic review and expert validation, with a specific focus on how manufacturing is discussed in contexts where digital technologies have been adopted, and widely addressed at the policy level. The analysis encompasses the following countries: Canada, Germany, Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The results emphasised the different connotations manufacturing holds for various demographics and how manufacturing, ranging from robotics to engineering systems, varies in definition based on individual perspectives. There is an observed dichotomy in public perception of the sector, ranging from antiquated views of dirty factories to a modern, automated image. Consequently, while the industry still captures public interest and is deemed essential, there are disparities between generations in understanding its significance.

Furthermore, the research has found familiarity with the sector positively influences opinions, indicating a gap between the familiar and unfamiliar regarding job quality perceptions. The discussion also emphasised the shift of countries from manufacturing to services and explored the importance of a robust manufacturing base for sustainable growth. Gender dimensions and the impact of COVID-19 perceptions on the industry’s role in innovation were also explored.

External speakers

The external speakers included Professor Fumi Kitagawa (City-REDI), Ollie Burrows (West Midlands Growth Company), Stewart McKinlay (National Manufacturing Institute Scotland), and Alain Dilworth (Made Smarter UK) shared initiatives and challenges faced in different regions. From the UK’s creation of the ‘Catapult’ technology and innovation centres focusing on manufacturing-related R&D and emerging technologies, modelled on the German Fraunhofer Institutes, to regional strategies focusing on net-zero, automotive innovation, and the intersection of technology with manufacturing, various initiatives are driving growth and sustainability.

Insights

Insights highlighted a stark disparity between perception and reality, with challenges like labour shortages, health and safety concerns, and the need for upskilling the workforce. Additionally, a Senior Policy Manager at Make UK, highlighted upcoming narratives for the manufacturing sector, especially in the context of elections and economic resilience. Emphasizing net-zero goals and a push to increase manufacturing’s GDP contribution. There was consensus that an overarching industrial strategy is needed focusing on skills, supply chains, and technological advancements.

The workshop offered a comprehensive view of global manufacturing perceptions, challenges, and the need for a strategic shift in how we perceive and position the sector. Addressing misconceptions, advocating for skills development, and aligning policy with industrial strategies emerged as critical themes for the future of manufacturing. As industries navigate an ever-evolving landscape, bridging the gap between perception and reality will be pivotal for sustained growth and innovation in manufacturing worldwide.


This blog was written by Dr Chloe Billing, Research Fellow, City-REDI / WMREDI, University of Birmingham and originally published online by the University of Birmingham.

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InterAct Blog

Rethinking manufacturing: It is everything, everywhere, all at once

In a world where perceptions shape industries and policies, understanding the narrative surrounding manufacturing is crucial. InterAct has recently published a report which analyses the perceptions of manufacturing in the United Kingdom and compares it with six other countries.

The report “How to make manufacturing charming again? It is everything, everywhere, all at once”, authored by researchers from Aston University and the University of Cambridge, examines the factors that influence these perceptions and tracks how the UK public’s perception has evolved over time.

The aim of the report is to support InterAct research on the future of manufacturing by providing insights into attitudes to manufacturing and industrial strategies, and how manufacturing is discussed in other countries, particularly where digital technologies have been adopted.

Public perceptions of manufacturing across countries and over time

Although governments remain hesitant to explicitly champion “industrial policy”, the renewed commitment to manufacturing, as evidenced in the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing Plan, underscores its pivotal role in national economies which is increasingly acknowledged by policymakers.

The multi-country review, encompassing the UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and the US, revealed more positive perceptions of manufacturing in Germany and the US compared to the UK. However, perceptions within the UK have shown improvement. In 2001, the British public believed that the country could thrive without manufacturing. In contrast, by 2023, 93% of the public believe that the manufacturing industry is essential to economic growth and resilience.

Across countries, including the UK, a consistent trend persists; younger people exhibit the least interest in pursuing careers in manufacturing. The prevailing perception, widely held among teenagers and young adults, is that the industry is predominantly male and lacking diversity compared to other sectors. Additionally, manufacturing is perceived as being poorly paid, repetitive, and not requiring high-skilled labour. These misconceptions pose significant challenges in attracting new talent to consider the manufacturing sector as a viable and rewarding career path.

Understanding the policy and perception nexus

Industrial and innovation policies play a significant role in shaping public perceptions, which can sometimes differ from reality. Terms like “advanced manufacturing” increasingly highlight the high-tech nature of the industry. National strategies also underscore manufacturing’s role in economic growth, innovation, and regional development.

Women tend to be underrepresented in manufacturing, especially in high-tech industries. For instance, in the UK, women account for 26% of the manufacturing workforce, and their representation is even lower in high-tech sectors such as automotive and aerospace. However, gender disparities within the sector remain largely unaddressed across policies, reflecting a notable blind spot.

Megatrends reshaping manufacturing

Megatrends reshaping manufacturing, such as environmental sustainability and digitalisation, persist as top priorities in industrial and innovation strategies. The interrelation of such megatrends is also becoming an area of interest in policy making. In addition, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions have led to an increased emphasis on resilience, national security, value chain reconfiguration, and technological sovereignty.

These shifts in priorities and the continued focus on digitalisation and environmental sustainability have broadened the scope of activities and value chain segments within manufacturing. Notably, there is a growing emphasis on areas such as design and recycling, and the blurring boundaries between manufacturing and services.

Addressing challenges and charting a new path

This latest InterAct report highlights the evolving perception of manufacturing, emphasising the intrinsic link between policy and public perspectives. It highlights manufacturing’s multifaceted role in economic growth, innovation, and social inclusion, while also indicating pathways for improvement.

The report provides four recommendations in moving forward:

  1. Systematic collection of data (yearly or every 2 years) about how the public perceives manufacturing and the role of the digital and green transformations in shaping perceptions.
  2. Leveraging the manufacturing observatory, outlined in the UK Advanced Manufacturing Plan, to constantly monitor policy developments across different contexts. This includes how manufacturing and related terminologies are defined and portrayed.
  3. Setting measurable targets and initiatives aimed at enhancing diversity in manufacturing.
  4. Providing education and career information about manufacturing from the early stages.
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InterAct Blog

Charging ahead or falling behind? the UK’s preparedness for EU battery regulations

The European Union’s (EU) new battery regulations (Regulation 2023/1542 ), introduces many new legislative measures, including specific requirements for battery passports and smart labelling. It marks a significant shift towards enhancing sustainability and transparency within the battery value chain.

These battery regulations are pivotal in advancing the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan. As the UK navigates its post-Brexit landscape, aligning with these regulations is crucial for maintaining trade relations and environmental standards. Recent InterAct funded research provides a comprehensive analysis of the UK’s readiness to adapt to these regulations, offering insights that highlight both opportunities and the challenges ahead.

New regulatory requirements

Under the new rules, there will be enhanced information and ICT system requirements for entities introducing batteries and battery powered products to the market. This applies to any economic operator involved in making batteries available in the EU, whether as separate components like cells, modules and packs, or as part of larger products. It also includes those who change a battery’s intended use or are involved in refurbishing or remanufacturing.

A key feature of the regulation is the mandatory inclusion of a QR Code on all batteries, facilitating the use of ‘smart label’ and ‘battery passport’ functionalities, varying by battery type. While specific operators are obligated to provide this information, in practice, a broader network of stakeholders will likely contribute, creating an integrated, multi-stakeholder ‘battery information ecosystem’. This ecosystem will span the entire value chain and lifecycle of battery products, supporting both passport and smart label functions with information from a diverse array of operators.

UK readiness

Recent research conducted by Loughborough University (supported by the  Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and funded via the Economic and Social Science Research Counil (ESRC) led InterAct Network) offers an extensive overview of the UK’s readiness for the impending regulations, specifically Battery Passports and Smart Labelling requirements.

The analysis includes results from a nationwide survey, completed by 80 organisations, including 21 large, 28 medium-sized, 23 small enterprises, and eight micro-businesses, also representing a wide spectrum of products and activities across the battery value chain/system.

The findings from the survey were discussed in a roundtable discussion and follow-up interviews, available here, which offer a multi-dimensional perspective on the readiness and concerns of the UK battery sector. This breadth of participation underscores the comprehensiveness of the findings, capturing a wide array of viewpoints and insights from a variety of actors along the value-chain from beginning of life to end of life.

Awareness and attitudes towards regulation

The survey revealed that 63% of organisations were unaware of the new regulations, with this figure rising to 73% among UK-based suppliers to the EU. This lack of awareness is concerning, as it indicates a potential gap in readiness for compliance.

The industrial context of these regulations is complex. While there is optimism about the potential for more sustainable and circular business practices, there are also concerns about the administrative, technical and financial burdens the Battery Passport and Smart Labelling requirement might impose. The majority view these requirements as a significant challenge, with only a minority seeing any substantial benefits.

Information readiness: a critical gap

A significant challenge identified in the survey is information readiness. Many businesses reported inadequate access to crucial data on battery materials and supply chain details. This includes information on recycled material content, hazardous substances and critical raw materials, as well as supply chain transparency for components like battery separators and cell casings.

Only about half of the respondents felt confident in the accuracy and completeness of their records, highlighting a pressing need for improved information sharing and data management systems.

ICT challenges and opportunities

The survey underscored the significant challenges in ICT, data, and workflow requirements for compliance. The responsibility for the Battery Passport primarily lies with the manufacturer, who is required to create and maintain these records for each battery throughout the battery’s lifecycle.

In some cases, other economic operators also have roles to play in maintaining or updating certain information, yet many organisations lack the necessary systems and expertise to collect, create, share and report the required data. However, this also presents an opportunity for innovation in the sector, with the potential for new technologies and systems to streamline these processes.

Implications for UK battery producers and UK policy

More needs to be done to raise awareness and demystify the compliance obligations of UK battery manufacturers and producers. It was felt that the new regulations would dominate the focus of day-to-day business activities for several years.

Other issues raised – such as fragmented industry practices, lack of clear guidelines, and the complexity of supply chains – would benefit from clear policy directions, enhanced data management systems, and increased international and value-chain collaboration, which were seen as critical to overcoming these challenges.

The regulation necessitates a collaborative effort from manufacturers, producers, importers, and distributors of all battery types and is essential for implementing substantial changes in areas such as labelling, end-of-life management, and supply chain due diligence. Additionally, there is a need for establishing incentives that will enable increased collaboration between beginning-of-life and end-of-life operators.

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InterAct Blog

Manufacturing a better future – exploring disability inclusive digital manufacturing

In 2021 Make UK1 outlined the need for manufacturing to attract skilled workers from all sections of society acknowledging the continuing challenges of the lack of diversity in the workforce. However, the current focus in manufacturing policy and practice on equality and diversity has been limited to gender and ethnic diversity. Although almost a quarter (23%) of the UK working age population are disabled2, the industry has lacked a real interest in the inclusion of disabled people.

The employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has also remained consistently high at around 30% for the past 10 years, with a pay gap of almost 20% lower for disabled workers compared with non-disabled workers3. Moreover, in the UK, 32% of disabled people do not have basic digital skills4 and those with multiple disabilities are the most digitally disadvantaged. They often face barriers in basic access to the technology such as connection to Wi-Fi-network or finding and opening applications on their devices.

This inaccessibility of technology, together with rapidly growing digital capabilities, is exacerbating the digital divide between disabled and non-disabled people. There is also a strong business case to include more disabled people into work for innovation through diverse workforce. We know that diversity and inclusion have positive effect on firms’ productivity, innovativeness or quality5, so why has this been largely ignored by manufacturers?

Recent research6,7 found that efforts to improve the suitability of industrial manufacturing workstations or the use of Industry 4.0 technologies for disabled people have still been superficial, favouring the inclusion of workers with milder disabilities and missing the complex interaction between the socio-technical aspects of inclusion. Our research explores how digital technologies, alongside an inclusive managerial mindset and accessible business practices, can create inclusive digitalisation in manufacturing.

Our project, ‘Manufacturing a Better Future – exploring disability inclusive digital manufacturing’, embodies the principles of socio-technical systems view where the benefits of the new technology are optimised alongside the humanisation of work, by looking into how the technological and social aspects interact and emerge together. This approach is closely in line with the social model of disability8. Based on this view, it is often the social barriers such as inaccessible physical environments, the attitudes (prejudice and discrimination) and the inflexibility of organisational procedures and practices that exclude disabled people from work, rather than medical conditions.

At the end of this project, we propose that we will have a greater understanding of how the digital inclusion divide, as well as the disability employment gap, can be narrowed through the inclusion of disabled people into the manufacturing ecosystem.


References
  1. Make UK (2021) UK manufacturing diversity & inclusion guide https://ktn-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/KTN_Made-Smarter_UK-Manufacturing-Diversity-and-Inclusion-Guide.pdf?=MadeSmarterUK
  2. Scope (2022) https://www.scope.org.uk/media/disability-facts-figures/
  3. Together Trust (2023) https://www.togethertrust.org.uk/news/explaining-disability-employment-gap
  4. Lloyds (2021) Essential Digital Skills Report 2021, https://www.lloydsbank.com/assets/media/pdfs/banking_with_us/whats-happening/210923-lb-essential-digital-skills-2021-report.pdf
  5. Chaudhry, I. S., Paquibut, R. Y., & Tunio, M. N. (2021). Do workforce diversity, inclusion practices, & organizational characteristics contribute to organizational innovation? Evidence from the UAE. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1), 1947549.
  6. Teixeira, E. S., & Okimoto, M. L. L. (2018). Industrial Manufacturing Workstations Suitability for People with Disabilities: The Perception of Workers. In Advances in Ergonomics in Design: Proceedings of the AHFE 2017 International Conference on Ergonomics in Design, July 17− 21, 2017, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, California, USA 8 (pp. 488-497). Springer International Publishing.
  7. Mark, B. G., Hofmayer, S., Rauch, E., & Matt, D. T. (2019). Inclusion of workers with disabilities in production 4.0: Legal foundations in Europe and potentials through worker assistance systems. Sustainability, 11(21), 5978.
  8. Oliver, M. (2013). The social model of disability: Thirty years on. Disability & society, 28(7), 1024-1026.
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InterAct Blog

Building supply chain resilience means going beyond reshoring

Ask anyone involved in supply chain management or logistics about the last five years and most will agree they have been tough. Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine have caused uncertainty on both the demand and supply side.

Such geopolitical uncertainty raises complex questions for supply chain managers, such as whether supply chains could be better prepared for shocks.

Professor Jan Godsell is the Co-director of InterAct and Dean of Loughborough Business School and Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy. After a career in manufacturing and supply chains, including spells at ICI and Dyson, she moved into academia covering all aspects of supply chains. According to Jan, a common cause of supply chain breakdown is just a lack of joined up thinking between marketing and supply chain strategy.

“It doesn’t matter whether you know why a demand pattern has been caused,” she explains. “If there’s a peak in demand, there’s a peak. The data should show that you get seasonal peaks, and you can react. We know we’re going to get shocks. We won’t know the cause, but we can have a degree of preparedness knowing there will be shocks at some stage.”

Dynamic versus structural flexibility

Dynamic flexibility is possible within the current network design, while the other, structural flexibility, demands a rewiring of relationships between suppliers.

She says the first type should be enough to cope with everyday swings in demand and supply. “If things stay within standard parameters, the network needs the right buffers to deal with that variability. It is a matter of analysing and assessing how unpredictable demand might be and using maths to work out required buffers and what inventory to keep.”

Jan says exceptional events in recent years have seen both sorts of flexibility at play.

“Brexit forced the UK to be fairly well buffered, so when Covid hit it meant we had a lot of inventory for the things we normally need. What also happened was unexpected demand for things we don’t normally require, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators.

“That required structural flexibility, creating new networks to produce things at a volume not seen before. With Covid-19, it wasn’t just the UK requiring flexibility, it was the world. We had to repurpose assets in the global network to provide them. And we did a decent job, globally.”

Jan adds that structural weaknesses highlighted by recent events have been partly created by decisions taken over many years, in particular making supply chain decisions based on short-term financials and procurement rather than long-term planning.

Finance runs the supply chain game

Holding buffers or inventory in a supply chain can be expensive, and it’s often not clear who should bear that cost. This, says Jan, is partly why supply chains have not been as resilient as they could be.

“We’ve had a financially orientated view of supply chains, focused on a return on capital employed (ROCE) that enables payback as quickly as possible. That means when building a factory, we don’t factor in spare capacity. And if spare capacity means inventory, we try to maximise return and minimise inventory.”

For Jan this goes back to how we value organisations, and the role finance plays in corporate strategy. And we haven’t learned much from earlier shocks.

She points out that financially driven supply chains had an impact in the recession of the late 2000s. A lot of firms had sent manufacturing and other parts of their supply chains offshore, often to low-cost environments. But they had forgotten to factor in the cost of logistics, which became a problem when the oil price peaked.

“Suddenly, the price of logistics was higher than the price of production. That reminded people to take a ‘total landed cost’ perspective [when deciding on location],” she explains. “People were lazily using manufacturing cost as a proxy for total landed cost. Worse still, they’d started to use labour cost as a proxy for manufacturing cost.”

While current trends such as “nearshoring” and “reshoring” are ways to de-risk supply chains, Jan suggests if cost must be the key factor in a decision, total landed cost is the metric to use. But when deciding where to place operations, she suggests not letting procurement be the drivers. Instead, she says, long-term planning and collaboration across the supply chain will be more effective at delivering efficient, resilient supply chains.

Let the SCOR guide you

Prof Godsell highlights the Supply Chain Council’s Supply Chain Operations Reference model (SCOR). SCOR consists of five core processes:

  • Planning
  • Procurement
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • The returns process

Planning is the primary element. Too many supply chains, says Jan, focus on a lowest-cost approach with procurement as the primary driver.

She describes this as “lowest cost, at all cost” and says it results in all parties doing things for themselves cheaply as possible, minimising buffers, passing risk to others and leaving the whole chain more vulnerable.

“Planning should be the integrative glue that holds it together,” she says. “It should be the function that connects a supply chain. We see lots of exploitative procurement practices, expecting year-on-year cost downs, because procurement managers have been incentivized on margin.”

End-to-end supply chains?

Jan’s ideal is to build what she calls “end-to-end supply chain optimisation” between retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. This creates flow and aims to manage the supply chain in a fairer way for everyone.

Buffers must be in the right place at the right amount. And there’s a collective responsibility for holding them and we don’t do things like promotions that mess up flow. The cheapest supply chain is one with steady demand, because it means minimal buffers, because you’ve got predictability.

And such end-to-end supply chains are likely to be less carbon intensive. “There is an inextricable link between productivity, sustainability and resilience,” says Jan. “The same principles underpin all three. If we could manage an end-to-end supply chain, so that we have flow and minimised buffers, within the current network configuration, it is likely to have the lowest carbon footprint, because you’ve got nothing in it you don’t need.”

Digitalisation is key

Like much else in modern organisations, supply chain optimisation requires technology. “We can’t do this without digitalisation,” says Jan, adding this is nothing new for manufacturing. “When I worked at ICI, we had electronic process control, it was just hard wired. Now the internet provides connectivity that spans the supply chain.”

Digitalisation enables us to understand demand and supply more accurately and we have the analytics platforms and the computing power to do the analysis we need in minutes.


This article was published by Lombard, read the original version here.

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InterAct Blog

How do we create manufacturing ecosystems from supply chains?

Introduction

The term ‘ecosystem’ is derived from biology, capturing a system of entities interacting and depending on each other and reacting to outside challenges and requirements. Business ecosystems represent the intense relationships between interlinked multilateral, complementary actors or partners interacting for value creation (Adner, 2017; Hannah and Eisenhardt, 2018).

We define a manufacturing ecosystem as a subclass of business ecosystems where supply chain firms arrange demand-driven collaboration in all directions (e.g., with partners, buyers, and even customers), thus competing with large Tier-1 firms for direct manufacturing orders, gaining these orders, fulfilling them and capturing profits. This changes the topology of a hierarchical supply chain into a distributed manufacturing ecosystem, where Tier-1s do not arrange subcontracting of the awarded orders.

In the conventional supply chains, Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent most suppliers worldwide, accounting for 70% of jobs and generating up to 60% of value added (OECD, 2017). For example, the aerospace supply chain starts with the OEM, which places orders in a ‘Calls for Tenders’ (CfTs), organizes tendering processes (often leading to Tier-1s) and awards orders to the team that best matches the requirements. In this industry, SMEs can potentially provide components and services at multiple supply chain levels, but they often miss the scale, scope, standardization or technologies to play a more active role in tendering (Müller et al., 2018). Also, SMEs have reduced ability to act as suppliers due to powerful Tier-1 companies (Schirrmann & Drat, 2018). 

However, what if demand-driven collaborations between SMEs are supported?

We simulate the application of Industry 4.0, Digital platforms, Smart contracts, and Supplier development programs (Kazantsev et al., 2022) and explore the growth of the manufacturing ecosystem from a conventional supply chain. We used system dynamics to simulate these changes and provide insights for manufacturing firms and policymakers about the desired level of support (Sterman, 2000; Akkermans and Wasserhove, 2018). 

An interactive dashboard has been developed that allows the testing of ecosystem development:

Findings

1. Supplier development and digital platforms make marketplaces more transparent so that SMEs can see more calls for tenders

Supplier development programmes and digital platforms are needed to help SMEs identify more calls for tenders and potential partners for collaboration.

2. The collaboration experience and smart contracts reduce uncertainty levels and enable SMEs to submit more collaborative tenders

Participating in tendering would also enable SMEs to learn how to fulfil orders; therefore, allowing some quotas is helpful. The more firms collaborate on tenders, the lower the level of uncertainty in the market. New technologies, such as smart contracting, indirectly increase the number of submitted tenders and further support the development of a trustworthy business environment.

3. Technological support for contracting and coordination reduces the order execution queue and supports the growth of a manufacturing ecosystem 

Insufficient contracting and coordination reduces order fulfilment efficiency and calls for digitalization  (Kazantsev et al., 2023). Adopting smart contracting and Industry 4.0 increases the ability of SME collaboration to execute the awarded orders in time. Specifically, if we double investments into smart contracting and Industry 4.0 every year, the number of delayed orders grows until the 5th year but then starts falling. In the 6th year, 48 calls for tenders will be available (with a 15 % quota), seven orders out of which will be fulfilled the same year, and six orders from the previous year’s queue. In this case, the order execution rate reaches a plateau – executing all awarded orders. Year 5 is a breakeven point when order execution rate, delayed, and executed orders intersect.

Study implications 

Demand-driven collaborations play a critical role in unfolding manufacturing ecosystems. In the early stages of such transitions, investments in collaboration enablers are critical to support ecosystem growth. Thus, we recommend:

  • investing in supplier development and digital platforms as early as possible
  • enabling quotas for SMEs in tendering   
  • increasing digitalization of contracting and coordination to support the efficiency of demand-driven collaborations

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2023.122917

References

Adner, R. (2017). Ecosystem as Structure. Journal of management, 43(1), 39-58.

Akkermans, H., & Van Wassenhove, L. (2018). A dynamic model of managerial response to grey swan events in supply networks. International Journal of Production Research, 56(1-2), 10-21.

Hannah, D. P., & Eisenhardt, K. M. (2018). How firms navigate cooperation and competition in nascent ecosystems. Strategic management journal, 39(12), 3163-3192.

Kazantsev, N., Petrovskyi, O., & Müller, J. M. (2023). From supply chains towards manufacturing ecosystems: A system dynamics model. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 197, 122917.

Kazantsev, N. (2022). Supporting SME Collaborations in Low-Volume High-Variability Manufacturing. United Kingdom:The University of Manchester.

Kazantsev, N., Pishchulov, G., Mehandjiev, N., Sampaio, P., & Zolkiewski, J. (2022). Investigating barriers to demand-driven SME collaboration in low-volume high-variability manufacturing. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 27(2), 265-282.

Kazantsev N., DeBellis, M., Quboa Q., Sampaio P., Mehandjiev N., &  Stalker I. (2023). An ontology-guided approach to process formation and coordination of demand-driven collaborations, International Journal of Production Research, DOI: 10.1080/00207543.2023.2242508

Müller, J. M., Buliga, O., & Voigt, K.-I. (2018). Fortune favors the prepared: How SMEs approach business model innovations in Industry 4.0. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 132, 2-17.

OECD. (2017). Enhancing the contributions of SMEs in a global and digitalized economy.

Schirrmann, A., & Drat, C. (2018). D6.1: Collaboration rules & procedures specification. Retrieved 16.12.2021 from https://6c97d07e-2d66-4f14-9c19-8c5872c4c3ba.filesusr.com/ugd/
2512a7_da7dba0ebb164182803d70e03fe6773b.pdf

Schmidt, M. C., Veile, J. W., Müller, J. M., & Voigt, K. I. (2023). Industry 4.0 implementation in the supply chain: a review on the evolution of buyer-supplier relationships. International Journal of Production Research, 61(17), 6063-6080.Sterman. (2000). Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World McGraw Hill.

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InterAct Blog

The three pillars of technology adoption in the agri-food industry: provision, people and practicality

There are terms we hear constantly in the agriculture and food sectors right now – industry 4.0, smart processes, robotic automation, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are all common buzzwords. However, while understanding the benefits of these formative ideas is relatively straightforward, putting them into practice relies on the collection, utilisation and analysis of data – data that needs to be digitally available to make this possible.

Adopting solutions that drive forward these tech advancements offers great potential in leveraging growth and productivity, but there is one sticking point. The UK agri-food industry is notoriously slow in adopting new technologies.

Of course, extraordinary events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, have accelerated the adoption of some digital technologies out of necessity, but the overall feeling has traditionally been one of reluctance, with various contributory factors including cost, resource, and general attitudes.

How to convince the sector to embrace change

There are three pillars that need to be considered to provide agri-food businesses with the confidence to adopt technology: provision, people, and practicality. These will in turn enable businesses to access the benefits that digitisation and data connectedness will bring. Let’s break them down one at a time.

Provision

It’s not that technologies haven’t been developed and tested – they have. It’s that less attention has been paid to actually provisioning tech specifically for the agri-food industry. Often technologies that make their way into the agri-food sector have been developed with a use case or other industry in mind. Only after this is the potential for it to be applied within agri-food production and/or manufacturing recognised.

Look at blockchain – its origins are in fintech, designed to trade digital currency bitcoin without the need for a trusted authority such as a bank. But repurpose this technology into the agri-food space, where it was pivoted to be an emerging technology to disincentivise and prevent fraud, and it’s clear it isn’t completely fit for purpose in its legacy form.

Why? Because the decentralised nature of blockchain means that using a typical payment model based on the number of transactions, where there are many transactions, is just not possible in a high volume/low margin sector like agri-food. So, in reality it, is just too costly to roll out. An obvious takeaway here is that if technologies are to be adapted and provisioned with the agri-food sector in mind, then it is vital that the technology providers have an in-depth knowledge of the agri-food sector.

People

It isn’t just provisioning where technology adoption currently falters. We need to shine a spotlight on how we get people to buy in. The breakdown here might not be where you think. While the benefit technology can bring to businesses is often understood on a macro level within the food industry, particularly by those in thought leadership positions, it is the onboarding of this technology’s main users that has proved more difficult.

This is not generally due to the people, but because of the change it involves. The benefits of this new way of working are not always immediately or overtly obvious to users. In fact, as a technology provider, I am often met with statements of resistance, such as: “because this is the way it has always been done”. However, this struggle to accept new technologies is often associated with a fear of change and being replaced by machines. That’s why it is so important that technology providers acknowledge these concerns and take them into consideration, reassuring users of the benefits during implementation.

Practicality

Addressing the practical aspects of a digital way of working within agri-food is the final part of making technology adoption more accessible. The responsibility here lies with the tech providers.

The processes, changes, and practical steps required to implement a new tech into a business are often confused and even misunderstood, even by the technology companies themselves.

In general, the agri-food sector operates on a high-volume low-margin model, meaning that processes are tightly refined and controlled. The industry has worked hard over the last 20+ years to bring about operational efficiencies through automation, so that cost savings or profitability can be achieved.

During this period there has been less of a focus on digitising data and the value it could bring through actionable insights. When disruptive technologies enter this process, they need to do so with ease and not impact operations or processes. In addition, they need to add value rather than create costs for businesses. Furthermore, these technologies need to be able to cope with the intricacies and nuances that exist in the production and manufacturing environments. Put simply, sometimes technology will not be plug and play – especially in its infancy. 

The outcome here is that the inherent benefits of digitisation are not immediately obvious, as they would be with operation efficiency gains. It is critical that technology providers take the time to understand the specific business where they are attempting to implement technologies and provide solutions that will support and enhance the business.

The sector, the business & the people

Ultimately, an understanding of the many aspects of the agri-food sector is critical for technology providers. Without a clear view of not just the supplier-customer relationships and their dynamics, but also the supply chain, with its global complexity and fragmented nature, and the many actors involved in the supply chain, there are sure to be issues. A grasp of all these issues assures an appreciation of the intricacies involved in technology adoption in this sector. It also ensures that technology providers can recognise any stumbling blocks ahead, while partnership with customers enables the provision of technology that is fit for purpose.

As a technology provider, Foods Connected works specifically on implementing digital solutions with Food Business Operators. The implementation of these solutions in various environments requires knowledge and understanding of how each business operates, accompanied by knowledge about the wider complexities of the sector in general. That’s why our teams have all worked in the industry and understand the intricacies of each step of the supply chain process. Our people are experts – and that’s what we need to take technology adoption forward in the agri-food industry.

After all, technology adoption and implementation are inherently coupled with people – and one cannot exist without the other.

Want to learn more about digitalisation in the agri-food industry? Watch our recorded InterAct x Foods Connected webinar: Overcoming barriers to digitalisation: adding value in the agri-food sector
About the author

Stephanie is a Senior Implementation Manager at Foods Connected. With 11 years’ experience in academia, food manufacturing and food-tech and an undergraduate degree in Food Science and a PhD in Food Supply Chain Management, Stephanie has spent her career working in food manufacturing environments in a R&D capacity, as well as working on and managing several multi million pound research projects while working for Queen’s University Belfast. Stephanie has worked with Foods Connected for the last 2.5 years, implementing, managing and delivering successful digital transformation projects within the food industry.

Categories
InterAct Blog

How can we attract the next generation of young talent into UK digital manufacturing careers by 2040?

Our exciting new project aims to develop a strategy to inform the rebranding of UK digital manufacturing to attract the next generation of talent into UK digital manufacturing careers by 2040.

In May 2023, the team members met at an InterAct research sandpit hosted by Loughborough University, which was held with the aim of developing research projects to accelerate the innovation and diffusion of Industrial Digital Technologies in UK manufacturing.

During the sandpit, it became clear that our interdisciplinary team shared a passion to make UK manufacturing a place that attracts, includes, and supports young talent from diverse backgrounds and mindsets. However, recent research conducted by MAKE UK reports only 2% of the average UK manufacturing workforce is currently below 30 years old [1].

Additionally, a recent InterAct 2023 survey on UK perceptions of manufacturing has found that younger generations identify UK manufacturing as an unattractive brand with uncertain employment prospects which is problematic for attracting ambitious and creative digital talent [2]. These negative perceptions in part could be attributed to older generational memories and experiences of physically demanding manufacturing jobs that fuelled the post-World War II economic recovery. Accounting for the rise of today’s digital labour market [3], these negative perceptions and experiences of UK manufacturing are likely to shape children and grandchildren’s career choices. This all adds up to a generational problem in UK manufacturing which is deep-rooted in the cross-generational experiences of what UK manufacturing once represented and the extensive and diverse career opportunities that are available today and will be realisable the future.

These preliminary findings paint an unsettling picture for UK manufacturing, especially when digital transformation has become a strategic priority for companies [4], industries [5] and countries [6]. At the country-level for example, if the UK is to pursue its levelling-up agenda and overcome its regional [7] and international [8] productivity gaps, then attracting young, digitally literate, and productive workers into well-paid, high-skilled manufacturing careers would seem an intuitive and rational approach. However, academic research continues to report that a major barrier for the digital transformation of older firms in various manufacturing sectors is the legacy of underperforming business models, inefficient workplace practices and traditional organisational structures [9], [10], [11].

These organisational legacies also raise the challenge that new digital competitors – such as the big technology firms and technology start-ups – are perceived to attract younger talent and the career aspirations of Generation Z [12] through creative workplace practices, new organisation designs and innovation cultures. 

Therefore, to address this problem, our project intends to co-create the most plausible future scenarios for rebranding UK digital manufacturing to help stakeholders attract the next generation of young talent into manufacturing careers by 2040. As our project is exploratory in design, we will interact with a range of policy makers, educators, employers, and university students to gather insights on how to attract young people into UK digital manufacturing careers by 2040. This will be conducted through six work packages that range from data mining four generations of manufacturing data held by the UK Office for National Statistics to interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders including business owners, industry bodies, technologists, policy makers, educators and students that are passionate about supporting the co-development of UK digital manufacturing.

We will also work with Strategic Innovation Ltd – a technology and innovation consultancy with a passion for sustainability – on a key output which will be the co-creation of a cross-generational map of peoples’ lived experiences of UK manufacturing. This will include both past and present experiences and will visualise potential rebranding opportunities for attracting the next generation of young talent into digital manufacturing careers by 2040.

By providing stakeholders with a visualisation of the future, our project will initiate  the development of a strategy for digital manufacturing careers that can play a central role in the UK’s economic and social development at home and overseas by attracting top talent into these roles.

If you or any colleagues would like to participate in our project, please contact Karl Warner, our Principal Investigator at karl.warner@glasgow.ac.uk for further information.  


References

[1] MAKE UK (2021) Manufacturing Our Recovery Through Inclusion (https://www.makeuk.org/insights/reports/manufacturing-our-recovery-through-inclusion)

[2] InterAct blog (2023) Future workforces: job quality & perceptions of UK manufacturing

(https://interact-hub.org/2023/05/23/future-workforces-job-quality-perceptions-of-uk-manufacturing/)

[3] Digital Skills & Jobs Europa (2023) The Rise of the Digital Labour Market (2022)

(https://digital-skills-jobs.europa.eu/en/inspiration/research/rise-digital-labour-market-2022)

[4] Sousa-Zomer, T. T., Neely, A., & Martinez, V. (2020). Digital transforming capability and performance: a microfoundational perspective. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 40(7/8), 1095-1128.

[5] Ciarli, T., Kenney, M., Massini, S., & Piscitello, L. (2021). Digital technologies, innovation, and skills: Emerging trajectories and challenges. Research Policy, 50(7), 104289.

[6] Senna, P. P., Roca, J. B., & Barros, A. C. (2023). Overcoming barriers to manufacturing digitalization: Policies across EU countries. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 196, 122822.

[7] Office for National Statistics (2023) Regional labour productivity, UK: 2021

(https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/productivitymeasures/bulletins/regionallabourproductivityincludingindustrybyregionuk/2021)

[8] Office for National Statistics (2023) International comparisons of UK productivity (ICP), final estimates: 2021

(https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/productivitymeasures/bulletins/internationalcomparisonsofproductivityfinalestimates/2021)

[9] Warner, K. S., & Wäger, M. (2019). Building dynamic capabilities for digital transformation: An ongoing process of strategic renewal. Long range planning, 52(3), 326-349.

[10] Jones, M. D., Hutcheson, S., & Camba, J. D. (2021). Past, present, and future barriers to digital transformation in manufacturing: A review. Journal of Manufacturing Systems, 60, 936-948.

[11] Ates, A., & Acur, N. (2022). Making obsolescence obsolete: Execution of digital transformation in a high-tech manufacturing SME. Journal of Business Research, 152, 336-348.

[12] Barhate, B., & Dirani, K. M. (2022). Career aspirations of generation Z: a systematic literature review. European Journal of Training and Development, 46(1/2), 139-157.

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InterAct Blog

Empowering women in manufacturing: Unlocking the potential of gender-inclusive digitalisation

We are at a crossroads, with the opportunity either to progress towards a more equitable manufacturing landscape or to deepen existing gaps. The digitalisation of manufacturing provides a chance to transform the sector into a more inclusive and diverse one. However, if we do not take intentional and proactive steps, this digital transformation could instead reinforce prevailing norms and deepen gender inequalities.

In order to inspire and inform initiatives towards a more inclusive and diverse manufacturing sector, Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy developed a policy brief to raise awareness about the challenges that women face when participating in manufacturing, while making the case for a gender-inclusive digitalisation. The policy brief was a key output of the InterAct-funded project Women in digital manufacturing and was conducted in collaboration with the Women in Manufacturing Initiative.

In this blog post, we will share some key takeaways from the policy brief.

What is the gender gap in UK manufacturing?

Gender norms and stereotypes segregate women and men into different occupations and economic activities. Although women represent almost half of the labour force in the UK, they account for just 26% of all workers in the manufacturing sector.  Women working in the manufacturing sector earn 17% less than their male peers.

Women from non-White backgrounds and women with disabilities are among the least represented population groups in UK manufacturing. According to 2022 data, women from non-White backgrounds account for 15% of the workforce, representing just 3% of manufacturing employees. In the same year, women with disabilities, as defined in the Equality Act 2010, represented 9% of the people in employment; however, they made up for less than 1% of the manufacturing workforce.

Representation of women in UK manufacturing is markedly lower in skilled trade occupations (9%); process, plant and machine operatives (23%); and managers and senior officials (23%). In comparison, women’s representation is larger in administrative and secretarial occupations (70%), personal services (55%), and sales and customer service (49%).

Traditional gendered division of labour persists in manufacturing industries. Men mostly dominate the automotive industry, while the pharmaceuticals, textiles, and apparel industries have a more equal representation of both genders.

Unpaid childcare and household work disproportionately affect women’s participation in manufacturing. Women in the UK spend 1.7 more time a day in unpaid childcare than men and 1.4 more time in household work.  This traditional gender-based division of unpaid work means that women face larger burdens to participate in paid work, particularly in positions with little flexibility or involving uncertain shifts and locations.

Because of this situation, women are more likely to work part-time than men. In 2022, 23% of the women working in manufacturing were working part-time, while only 5% of men were working part-time.

Challenges faced by women in the UK manufacturing sector

We invited stakeholders from the manufacturing sector to participate in an online survey to understand the challenges women face to participate in the sector. Survey participants perceive that the prevailing non-inclusive culture, which continues to favour men over women in manufacturing roles, is the primary hurdle to the participation of women in the industry. This is followed by barriers in promotion and leadership, a lack of awareness and visibility of job opportunities, a lack of skills and training support and work–life balance.

What are some of the challenges preventing equitable opportunities and rewarding careers for women in manufacturing?

Note: Number or respondents = 63.The sum of the percentages exceeds 100% because respondents could select more than one choice.

Source: Women in Manufacturing survey.

The digital transformation and gender diversity in manufacturing

The digital transformation and other recent trends have had mixed effects on gender diversity in the manufacturing landscape. Over the past two decades, the UK manufacturing sector has significantly changed the distribution of job roles within its workforce. Despite labour shortages in roles such as process, plant and machine operatives and skilled trades, which men mostly hold, these positions have seen a notable decrease in their share of manufacturing employment.

Administrative and secretarial occupations, which are mostly held by women, have also seen a decline in employment rates, and this trend is likely to continue in the coming years. In comparison, there has been a substantial expansion in the shares of professionals and associate professional and technical positions.

Changes in manufacturing occupations, 2004 and 2022 (total)

Source: Nomis. Annual Population Survey – Workplace analysis

Changes in the skills required by manufacturing businesses are creating opportunities for women to enter the industry. Skills such as data analysis, forward-thinking and innovation are becoming more relevant, and a growing number of women from different backgrounds have these skills. This positive trend is compounded by the interaction of the digital and the environmental sustainability transitions, which are making manufacturing more diverse.

From 2004 to 2022, there was an increase in gender diversity in several manufacturing jobs. These include professional roles, managers, directors and senior officials, associate professional and technical roles, and skilled trade occupations.

Changes in gender diversity IN manufacturing occupations, 2004 ̶ 2022

Source: Author, based on Nomis. Annual Population Survey – Workplace analysis. For detailed definitions of the nine occupational categories please refer to Appendix A of the policy brief..

The way forward: How can we improve gender diversity in UK manufacturing?

Drawing upon established practices to promote gender equality, 10 practical recommendations are provided in the policy brief for UK organisations to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive manufacturing sector.

Businesses, industry associations and research organisations could:

  1. Collect and analyse diversity data. According to the Make UK ED&I Survey 2021, 47% of manufacturers are not assessing the status of equality, diversity and inclusion.
  2. Promote an inclusive workplace culture through initiatives such as awareness-raising campaigns, diversity and inclusion training and networking opportunities.
  3. Address gender bias in recruitment and promotion by using inclusive language in job advertisements, promoting diverse interview panels and candidate pools, and promoting mentoring opportunities.
  4. Support work–life balance by providing flexible working arrangements, implementing return-to-work policies, promoting the uptake of paternity leave, and offering on- or near-site subsidised childcare, among other initiatives.
  5. Share and recognise examples of best practice by creating spaces for organisations to share their experiences and establishing awards to encourage outstanding practices.

Government organisations could:

  1. Follow a gender-transformative approach in government support programmes. This includes setting targets for reaching women-owned businesses through support programmes, including women’s business organisations in the design of dissemination campaigns, and conducting gender-sensitive evaluations.
  2. Support research on gender equality and gender-disaggregated data collection. We cannot address what we do not know. A critical gap exists in gender-, ethnic- and disability-disaggregated data, as well as in understanding gender differences in the adoption of digital technologies in manufacturing. Bridging this gap requires both allocating funding to expand survey samples and supporting new research.
  3. Incentivise gender equality in research and innovation teams by continuing efforts such as Innovate KTN’s guidelines for inclusive design and by including gender equality criteria in research and technology fund allocations.
  4. Adopt a lifelong learning approach in training and education programmes by creating opportunities for women to develop skills at different stages of their lives.
  5. Ensure an enabling environment for improving gender balance in caring responsibilities. This may involve cross-ministerial coordination and collaboration with industry associations to develop and enforce policies that support flexible working, paternity leave, returning to work, and child and adult social-care provision.

The policy brief provides examples of how various types of organisations are implementing initiatives in these areas. These include from a medium-sized business pioneering flexible working in manufacturing, to comprehensive equality and inclusion strategies in a multinational company, and gender-inclusive approaches in digital manufacturing support programmes.

Promoting gender equality not only upholds a fundamental human right but also serves as a catalyst for improved financial and environmental performance, making it imperative to prioritise the increased participation of women in the UK manufacturing sector. The potential economic benefits, as estimated by Make UK, underscore the vital role of gender diversity in closing skills gaps and driving economic growth, potentially adding £7 billion annually to the UK’s gross domestic product.

Finally, while the policy brief provides insights into the dynamics of gender diversity in UK manufacturing, shaped by digital transformation and other contemporary trends, there are still many unknowns that need to be addressed. For instance, we have little understanding of how digitalisation is changing manufacturing workplaces and the challenges women and men face in adapting to and benefiting from these transformations.

Despite increasing commitments to narrowing gender disparities, gender equality remains secondary in importance, particularly in industrial and technology domains. This oversight has resulted in underfunded research and analysis aimed at addressing gender gaps. To pave the way for a more inclusive, innovative, and equitable future in manufacturing, we must collectively tackle these outstanding issues.

Download the full policy brief:  

Download “Policy brief - The case for a gender-transformative digitalisation”

Women-in-Manufacturing-policy-brief.pdf – Downloaded 2603 times – 3.97 MB

This work was supported by the UKRI Made Smarter Innovation Challenge and the Economic and Social Research Council via InterAct [Grant Reference ES/W007231/1].

Categories
InterAct Blog

Industrial metaverse for manufacturing systems: hype or future reality?

Our project aims to provide a coherent interdisciplinary summary of established knowledge from academia and practice on the application and potential benefits, barriers, and risks of a metaverse in manufacturing, mainly focusing on bridging technical and social insights.

Metaverse is expected to provide numerous benefits, particularly in production process optimisation, employee induction and collaboration. The most surprising research finding so far is just how varied the definitions of metaverse are. For our study, we define industrial metaverse as” a sensory environment that uses extended reality to blend the physical and digital worlds to transform how businesses design, manufacture and interact with objects”.

The existing industrial cases reveal technological barriers such as immaturity, lack of sufficiently strong communication networks and sustainability concerns. Other cases include cybersecurity risks like cyberattacks and data protection/privacy issues. The social barriers include jurisdictional and legislative difficulties, lack of cooperation between companies necessary to achieve interoperability and the need to change worker and user mindsets. 

Figure 1. Industrial metaverse as a new interface to the products’ manufacturing system

Although the data suggests immersion as a driving force of the metaverse[1], a full immersion can not be achieved without impacting the senses and feelings of a user. For example, in sensory marketing, similar impacts (experience stimuli) are used to trigger purchasing intention (Dewey, 1925; Schmitt, 1999), however, in the physical reality. Hence, we envision a similar trend in the digital world, where an industrial metaverse will extend the numeric and graphical data (such as reports) into coherent immersive experiences that will also affect feelings, Figure 2.

Figure 2. Industrial Metaverse as a combination of senses stimuli

Our conceptualisation efforts aim to prototype an industrial metaverse that activates several senses (sight, sound, temperature, and smell) and test how the extended experience triggers actions.

“Highly promising results are expected for the intersection of resilience and sustainability,” said Nikolai. “For example, based on the sensory marketing research that positions smell as the strongest attractor for purchasing decisions, we aim to virtualise the production conditions with sight, sound, temperature, and smell and enhance experience stimuli in the metaverse. We think it will better inform purchasing choice and support the demand pattern for clean energy, ethical production, and fewer emissions along supply chains.”

After the first results of the systematic literature review, we wish to explore the feasibility of the extended reality to shift decision-making towards more expensive but more sustainable decision-making along the manufacturing value chain[2]. Over the following months, our research aims to exemplify our concept using a scenario based on food manufacturing system for chocolate production. To do so, we will integrate the popular Augmented Reality platform with audio, temperature and smell generator devices to extend the experience for a policy-maker, manufacturer or customer making a hard choice between a cost-efficient vs. sustainable manufacturing system. This prototype will be used as a sensory dashboard for an extended representation of material sources, production conditions, carbon footprint and energy sources to better inform the stakeholder about the impacts of their decision.

“Carbon emission, working conditions, and energy consumption remain underexplored in the real world but visible in the metaverse. Hence, the metaverse can be used to raise awareness about manufacturing systems.”

Yet, It is unclear if being informed on carbon emissions in real-time will impact manufacturers’ use of their machines and shift the regulation imposed by policymakers. For example, would the smell of burning Amazon forests shift a consumer’s decision-making closer to more expensive sustainable purchase better than the printed carbon footprint number on the product package?

Figure 3. Industrial metaverse as a sensualisation of real-time data sharing   

The project has an open innovation philosophy, so we wish to create a discussion space around the metaverse application for manufacturing and are open to collaboration with the InterAct researchers and the industrial community.

To disseminate the findings, we plan to run a public event involving technology providers, industry, academia and stakeholders from the local public administration at the end of 2023.


References

Academic

Dewey, J. (1981). The later works, 1925-1953 (Vol. 3). SIU Press.

Schmitt, B. (1999). Experiential marketing. Journal of marketing management15(1-3), 53-67.

Petit, O., Velasco, C., Wang, Q. J., & Spence, C. (2022). Consumer consciousness in multisensory extended reality. Frontiers in psychology13.

Industrial

https://www.radiantvisionsystems.com/blog/creating-full-sensory-experiences-future-ar/vr/mr/xr

https://www.ericsson.com/en/6g/internet-of-senses

https://www.bitstamp.net/learn/web3/extended-reality-virtual-reality-augmented-reality-and-more/

https://www.designnews.com/augmented-reality/metaverse-will-engage-all-five-senses


[1]64% of industrial cases describe metaverse as a realistic user experience

[2] The team is considering to apply for further funding via the newly launched Impact Booster Competition of Made Smarter Innovation Challenge