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Homepage Competitive and Sustainable Growth - Making the European Research Area a Reality
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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research themes > Products & processes
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The Competitive and Sustainable Growth (GROWTH) Programme ran from 1998 to 2002 under the Fifth Framework Programme(FP5). Funding for industrial research is currently covered by the thematic priorities of the Sixth Framework Programme(FP6) from 2002 to 2006, designed to support the creation of a European Research Area:

The following text was first published in March 2000.

Graphic element Innovative products, processes and organisation

European industry - particularly traditional sectors with a high percentage of SMEs - must continually adapt to change by adopting new technologies and ways of working. Research projects are tackling a wide range of issues in innovative products, processes and organisations.

These include miniaturised systems, the construction of safe and sustainable infrastructure, and developing new organisational tools and methodologies.
Medium- to long-term goals include improving overall quality and reducing resource consumption by over 50%, towards zero waste in manufacturing and processing.

  Main fields of research

Efficient production, including design, manufacturing and control - developing approaches, innovative technologies and methodologies for improved competitiveness.
Intelligent production - improving the performance of industry by the application of innovative technologies.
Eco-efficient processes and design - developing global approaches to minimise the impact of processes, products and services from extraction of resources through production to waste management.
Organisation of production and work - moving towards innovative high performance industrial systems and customer-driven enterprises with multi-skilled personnel.


  Targeted research actions

To concentrate resources and efforts and pursue the problem-solving approach that characterises the Growth Programme calls for research proposals grouped into clearly identified targeted research actions (TRAs).

Five TRAs address the selected research areas:

1. The products of the future
2. A new generation of machines
3. The extended enterprise
4. The modern factory
5. Infrastructure

  1. The products of the future

There is a global demand for environmentally friendly products, with added value, offering increased functionality. This is opening up dynamic markets for resource-saving and miniaturised products and driving demand for innovative production techniques. EU-funded research is focussing on two main areas:

Improving processes for developing innovative added-value products and services; and

Solving problems related to developing new miniaturised systems and integrating advanced micro-components.

In the medium to long term, this research will stimulate new product and process development and create new markets for manufacturing industries. Virtually all sectors will benefit, including consumer products, medical instruments, information society technology and safety monitoring.

 2. A new generation of machines

Factories of the future will need machines and production equipment that are more efficient to satisfy user needs and meet demands for smaller production runs. EU-funded research is focusing on:

New technologies for eco-efficient manufacturing and production;
New procedures, methodologies and technologies for efficient production equipment design and manufacture; and
Scientific and technical knowledge about operational aspects of new machines and the management of change.

After further industrial development, this research will reduce the time needed for equipment design and pre-production. Increased quality and reliability with gains in set-up times and operational efficiency should also follow.

3. The extended enterprise

Europe's industrial enterprises must adapt their working methods to respond to challenges such as globalisation, new business dynamics and novel manufacturing concepts. These affect supply chains and production networks and require organisations to be multi-skilled and knowledge intensive. Research is focusing on ways of integrating and applying information society technologies and management tools for organisational change.

Priorities include:

Developing new organisational structures such as virtual manufacturing companies, including improved logistics;
New patterns of work organisation such as parallel manufacturing and understanding the factors that determine industrial change; and
Knowledge-management techniques such as methods to codify knowledge held by organisation or individuals.

In the long-term, this should help industry adapt to change, reduce production costs and time-to-market and increase quality and efficiency while using resources better.

  4. The modern factory

The competitive success of European enterprises depends on anticipating and responding to changing consumer needs and producing quality goods in the right quantities while reducing costs.

EU-funded research is developing new technologies and methodologies to support competitiveness and environmental friendliness. In the pursuit of zero-waste, industrial-production research is underway into improving use of resources in all phases of their life cycle. The problems of traditional sectors in upgrading production of final products and components are also being tackled. Industries likely to benefit include textiles and clothing, leather, construction, agro-industrial, furniture, auto and chemical goods.

Priorities include:

Technologies for efficient and intelligent design and engineering;
Technologies for clean, efficient and intelligent production; and
Scientific and technical knowledge facilitating eco-efficient production and organisation.

Long-term benefits should include improvements in mass-production quality and reduced design and production costs. The research should contribute to the development of resource-efficient production processes and a substantial reduction in waste and pollution over the next 20 years.

5. Infrastructure

Industrial facilities, buildings and civil infrastructure are essential for sustainable economic growth. But they can be harmful to Europe's environment and the quality of life of its citizens and be unsustainable in the long term. Research funded by the EU in this targeted research action aims to:

Encourage the design, modelling and simulation of safe and sustainable facilities and infrastructure incorporating life cycle analysis; and
Tackle issues such as construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and decommissioning of existing installations; and
Ensure efficiency as well as occupational health and safety.

In the medium term, European research should contribute to modernising industry, reducing environmental impact and improving working conditions and quality of life.

  Clean technologies feature: Major commitment to sustainable development in Europe

Promoting co-operation in polymer research
Research clustering brings added dividends
Smaller jets for cleaner cuts at lower cost
Water jets at the cutting edge of technology
Reducing waste in hard stone quarries
Green gold from old computers
Feature on Sustainability - Community research on pulp and paper
Towards a sustainable future for Europe
Combined technologies slash paper-mill water waste
Dry process helps reduce environmental impact of tissue manufacturing process
Paper mill shows the way in environmental care
Bio-cleaning aids paper-mill water conservation
Enzymes fight paper machine slimes

Feature on Sustainability: Growth programme shows new ways to sustainable development
Designing electrics/electronics for reduced environmental and economical impact
Making a cleaner cut
Bridging gaps in safety and reliability
Supercritical fluids clean up polymer manufacture
Bio-cleaning aids paper-mill water conservation

Conference: Bridging the gap in sustainability research
EU research spearheads
in biomaterials market
Special 3D simulation for fasteners industries
Break-away valves
Short lead-time 'patternless' manufacture of castings
Application of SMAs in quarries for a novel splitting system
Environmentally friendly construction technology
When the earth moves (RTD info article)
Recycled buildings
(RTD info article)
Recycling end of life vehicles

Innovative products, processes and organisation
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