Grand Challenges in Smart Manufacturing Research – A CONFIRM View – Part 3

In a series of blogs, CONFIRM, the SFI funded Centre for Smart Manufacturing Research will talk about how it visualises the future of Smart Manufacturing and will address the emerging Grand Challenges in this area. CONFIRM will also talk about the aspects of Smart Manufacturing they will focus on by means of newly devised research themes that will govern the Centre’s activities in Phase 2 of its research programme (2023-2029).

Here in blog 3 we will go into more detail on the ‘Missions’ that CONFIRM have identified for the Grand Challenge of ‘Future Ready Workforce’

The missions that CONFIRM has defined are carefully designed to meet the two identified Grand Challenges of Resilient Manufacturing Systems and Future Ready Workforce. In responding to the challenges, the missions will deliver significant impact and provide clarity that ensures all underlying research themes are strategically aligned and collaborative from the outset. For each of these five missions, CONFIRM will develop exemplar digital-physical mission demonstrators for exploitation to industry, government, public and other stakeholders.

Future Ready Workforce – Missions x 2

  • Manufacturing Transition Platform
    • This mission will develop an open platform that leverages physical hubs/labs and digital portals in the transfer of knowledge and skills to support small and medium enterprises and the manufacturing workforce in the adoption of new digital manufacturing technologies.
  • Digitally Enabled Work
    • This mission involves the creation of a collaborative human-machine workforce through human-centered, AI powered technologies to empower people and teams in the world of work as technology advances and automation replaces mundane and dangerous manual tasks.


Preparing the Future Ready Workforce is about imagining future visions of working life that will be characterised by evolved or entirely new job roles, in factories operating the latest in cyber-physical systems that are also safe and pleasant spaces, conducive to creativity and purposefully designed to allow for ease of collaboration. This human-centered production system, while featuring mobile collaborative robotics that operate alongside the human workers, and a range of complementary wearable technologies, will at the same time emphasise the need for a variety of soft skills, driven by an increase in remote collaboration and the evolution in customer relationships. In many ways, this Grand Challenge is about facilitating more adaptable modes of work in more amenable workspaces for people in a variety of circumstances.

Blog 4, our final blog in the series will address the identified ‘Themes’ that will feed into the five defined ‘Missions’


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