Towards high performance living manufacturing systems - A new convergence between biology and engineering
This paper reports on a highly ambitious international study undertaken in the period 2018-2020 on the topic of convergence between biology and advanced manufacturing systems. The international team (authors of this paper) worked together to analyse the status of this convergence through the assessment of concrete examples, referred to here as demonstrators, within advanced manufacturing systems. Four independent demonstrators from different sections of the manufacturing value chain and involving bio-inspiration, bio-integration and/or bio-intelligence were selected to test the following hypothesis: ""That Future Manufacturing Systems will incorporate Components, Features, Characteristics and Capabilities that enable the convergence towards Living Systems"". Each of these four demonstrators have succeeded in supporting this hypothesis and in providing clear evidence to confirm that significant performance benefits may be derived through the ""biologicalisation"" of advanced manufacturing systems. This conclusion is of great significance for the next phases of development of manufacturing science and engineering globally. The evidence reported in this paper provides a robust basis for recommending that a deeper analysis of the implications of biologicalised manufacturing systems be undertaken. As a result of this early stage work, it is concluded that there is a high likelihood that this new convergence will lead to a major paradigm shift in advanced manufacturing. Outstanding opportunities exist for high levels of innovation in the next stages of development of advanced manufacturing processes and systems from the biological perspective. The relationship between the human and the physical manufacturing system will also change and the world of advanced manufacturing will be confronted with many new challenges including important ethical questions.