Industrial research for health, wealth and happiness
The term ‘quality of life’ encompasses a huge range of factors that contribute to the level of health, wealth and happiness that we experience in our everyday lives. Industrial technologies research does not spring immediately to mind as a primary source of health, wealth and happiness – but history shows that new technology has brought countless benefits to daily life, such as better manufacturing processes which reduce industrial accidents, more efficient aircraft that offer affordable foreign holidays, and better surgical implants that improve mobility for the aged. EU industrial technologies research into processes, materials and nanotechnologies brings the innovative leaps in these fields that contribute so much to our well-being as citizens and workers.
EU research projects must demonstrate their positive impact on society, through improvements to health, the environment and living standards. Three such projects are described here. The Manubuild project aims to develop an ‘open building manufacturing system’ that combines ultraefficient manufacturing in factories and on-site with an open and diverse supply chain to provide affordable and customised homes and buildings. Leapfrog CA is a project to create a knowledge community within Europe’s textile and clothing industry to improve manufacturing, lower costs and add value in this sector, thus revitalising a domestic EU industry that can export to the world. The Tunconstruct project is researching underground construction technologies and aims to reduce costs and accidents by 30% and 50% respectively.
Full project title: Open building manufacturing
Project acronym: Manubuild
Project coordinator: Corus, UK
Duration: 4 years
Full project title: Coordination of multidisciplinary knowledge and research
activities to support leadership for European apparel
production from research along original guidelines
Project acronym: Leapfrog CA
Project coordinator: European Apparel and Textile Organisation
Duration: 18 months
Full project title: Technology innovation in underground construction
Project acronym: Tunconstruct
Project coordinator: Institut für Baustatik, TU Graz, Austria
Duration: 42 months
Science in society significance
Industrial research is advancing knowledge all the time and, in time, citizens do see the benefits in their everyday lives. The Manubuild project, by industrialising the building industry in Europe, expects lower costs, waste and time in the construction of new buildings. This will benefit both consumers and the environment. In addition, by using modular construction techniques, industrial accidents will be fewer, which benefits workers. Through re-engineering a large part of the clothing supply chain, the Leapfrog project will retain jobs in the 150 000 companies in this sector, mostly SMEs, that are currently threatened by competition from abroad. The Tunconstruct project is reducing the cost of underground constructions, which will have several effects: more tunnels in cities will relieve congestion, less noise pollution as transport goes underground, and underground construction will be much safer for workers, benefiting them, their families, and the economy.
- Significant reductions in the number of construction industry accidents, waste and the costs and time to construct buildings (Manubuild);
- Improvements to productivity, co-operation and innovation in the supply chain that will raise the game of EU textile and clothing companies and retain employment in this sector (Leapfrog CA);
- More tunnels in urban areas thus reducing traffic congestion in the context of rapidly increasing road transport (Tunconstruct);
- A safer working environment for construction workers with fewer industrial accidents and a less noisy urban environment (Tunconstruct).