In early 2010, BECO joined forces with AkzoNobel, DPI Value Centre, DSM, Royal Cosun, Search and Witteveen+Bos and challenged one another to work together and design a conceptual, yet typical, chemical plant, the 'Factory of the Future'.
After initial brainstorming the companies involved developed a concept titled the 'Factory of the Future' a model developed to demonstrate the feasibility of a typical chemical plant designed according to a continuous loop system, i.e., a production environment based on sustainable principles for a positive footprint.
The team has developed a conceptual production environment based on principles in terms of people, planet and profit, for the total value chain. The virtual facility focuses to close the biological and the technological cycles of a product and its related manufacturing as far as possible.
The project aims to generate an open concept for the factory, one that can be used by other companies and projects to benefit society as a whole.
The production environment will be suitable for a variety of sustainable products and production lines. The facility will also be available as a training centre for users to train employees on new processes and products.
The challenges for the Factory of the Future are designing not only a sustainable building but also, and above all, a sustainable production chain. This is what distinguishes the factory from a sustainable office or house, and, consequently, requires solutions at a much higher level. The standard sustainable solutions, such as materials and installations, are necessary, but cannot provide the complete answer; much more is required. The impact of the production process on water and energy use, and materials streams is much higher than any influence the building itself has, especially for a chemical factory. Witteveen+Bos has designed a parametric associative model to deal with the complexity of the processes and its degrees of freedom, and make it possible to generate conceptual models efficiently. BECO's Steven Meun assisted with the development of this model providing knowledge and skills about energy supply and materials.