Factory of the Future in the Post-Pandemic World

24 March 2020
Author: Daghan Cam

Most of us have made a seamless transition to remote working within a few days after the Covid-19 outbreak. Meetings have turned into conference calls, chat rooms have replaced standup conversations and all the other good stuff like virtual happy hours on Friday afternoons.

But what about the factories? Were the manufacturers able to adapt to this new world so quickly as well? Well, not really. Global supply chains have shattered into pieces and almost every manufacturer is in big economic trouble, with the exception of some that produce medical supplies or toilet papers.

The upside? Covid-19 is a wake up call for the manufacturing industry and we can learn from it. Emergencies fast-forward historic processes as the historian Yuval Harari explained recently. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Makers from all over the world are 3D printing medical supplies now as a response to global shortages and the broken supply chains, such as this startup in Italy, this open-source initiative in Ireland and Volkswagen in Germany.


Today is the 11th of March 2025.

Five long years have passed since The World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a Pandemic. Remote working is the new normal now. We don’t take cross country flights for drinks and dinners to conduct sales. We are having VR hangouts instead. Yes, the clunky headsets have evolved and finally managed to find their purpose.

This is the world’s first and only Global Remembrance Day. Everyone in every country stays at home for 24 hours to honour the lives of so many people we have lost after the outbreak. Noone works today except the fleets of robots inside dark factories that are starting to appear across different parts of the world. Enter this dark factory at the heart of Shenzhen, China.

Walking inside this factory is like walking on the surface of a microchip with a giant magnifier where you can see clusters of atoms morphing raw bits into structured data. Hundreds of robotic arms are processing raw materials tirelessly into functional products with various shapes and sizes.

Dark factories come in different configurations but they operate with the same four principles.

  1. Primarily additive: Additive manufacturing means universal manufacturing. The technology is so ridiculously applicable to everything that it can efficiently manufacture a jet engine blade and a toothbrush in a row with zero material waste. This flexibility in production lines allows manufacturers to transition from thinking mass production first to mass customization first.
  2. Manufacturing on demand: As we gradually move away from mass production thinking dictated by the principles of Henry Ford’s unit economics into a more sustainable mass customization economy, we are starting to produce parts on demand when necessary. On-demand manufacturing simplifies the supply chain by eliminating the need for stock management, warehousing and ordering bulks of inventory from distant countries which are often wasted before they even reach their end users.
  3. Manufacturing on the cloud: Think Amazon Web Services (AWS) for Manufacturing. These factories are not operated locally but they make their resources accessible via the cloud in real-time. “Build once, deploy anywhere” paradigm in software engineering is applied to the Manufacturing industry as “Design once, produce anywhere”.
  4. Manufacturing with the lights off: The “last mile” factory automation was historically seen as impossible or way too expensive to be profitable. Despite the cautionary decisions of Toyota and Tesla made in the past for bringing back humans into their factories and replace robots to be able to maintain profitability, new advancements in Artificial Intelligence increased the capabilities of industrial robots from doing “dumb & repetitive” tasks to more complex processes that require higher levels of cognition and ability to adapt into unknown conditions. Thanks to AI powered autonomous robots filled with sensors and computing power, we are now able to run factories with their lights off very very efficiently — even on the Global Remembrance Day while every citizen of the world is inside their homes.
AiSync allows manufacturers to control their fleet of robots via the cloud

What about the factory workers, are we losing jobs to robots? They started developing new skills and gradually moved onto other creative industries. They don’t work 9 to 5 now because they have to. They work anytime and anywhere on what they love because they want to. They also maintain a high standard of living with their Universal Basic Income that became possible with the abundance of wealth created by the robots.

It wasn’t easy to get here only in five years. It took a lot of science, hard work and collaboration and it was worth it. The human race is better prepared for the next pandemic now.


Today is the 24th of March 2020.

The death toll of Covid-19 keeps accelerating and the level of uncertainty across the global markets is at its peak. To reveal the projections of the tech community, we have asked 43 entrepreneurs one question:

When will the world get back to normal, where businesses and individuals operate without major disruptions related to pandemics?

16% of the participants voted that the disruptions will be over in 3 months. The vast majority, around 73% predict that the disruptions will last around 1 year. There is a group of 9% that thinks that the world will get back to normal in 3 years and only 2% of the participants think that this is the new normal for good.

We don’t know when the world will get back to normal but we know exactly what we will be doing until it does. As a wise Martian once said:

“In the face of overwhelming odds, we are left with only one option. We are going to have to science the shit out of this.”

  1. We will stay at home
  2. Wash our hands with soap and water
  3. Build autonomous factories

If you are in the Manufacturing business, get in touch via info@ai-build.com to join us in accelerating the development and spread of Autonomous Manufacturing. We are working with innovative businesses from Automotive, Aerospace, Marine and Construction industries to enhance their capabilities with our Autonomous Large Scale 3D Printing technology.