Factories in change

The factory as a meaningful place of work in transition

In order to become less dependent on supply bottlenecks and interrupted logistics chains, more and more manufacturing companies are increasing their vertical integration. This is a logical and important step toward ensuring the ability to supply customers in the medium and long term. However, with increasing vertical integration, it is not only the shortage of skilled workers, which is noticeable everywhere. Together with the buildup of inventories in warehouses, the demand for space and energy is also growing. In times of resource scarcity and rising energy costs, this additional demand must be met with absolute efficiency and sustainability. The goal of climate neutrality, demands for energy self-sufficiency and the dwindling supply of space for commercial premises are presenting decision-makers, developers and investors with new challenges.

In the context of new production and logistics locations, defining the right strategy for the future is essential for long-term corporate success. With our 11 recommendations, we, as an experienced partner for the holistic design of organizations, factories and systems, provide answers to the changes in framework conditions:

  1. Preserve, revitalize, expand instead of demolition and new construction

The development of a master plan for the site with a view to the next 20 years creates an optimal strategic framework for an ecological as well as economic decision. In this context, “preserve, revitalize and expand” creates a new value in the sense of a changeable and multifunctional factory concept. Admittedly, this requires more planning effort than new construction projects. But with the support of experienced holistic planning teams, the investment volume is ultimately significantly lower and brings this ecological and economic added value.

  • Continue to use CO2 bound in the supporting structure
  • Actively improve existing buildings (technology, insulation)
  • Condense areas and continue to use them, no new land consumption
  1. Expandable multi-use real estate instead of special real estate

Holistic planning means participation of several experienced experts. Here, a versatile space is designed as a team, allowing for many alternative uses. The more functions that can be mapped in a room for different users, the higher the value. Multifunctional spaces become the linchpin of forward-looking buildings. Third-party use also creates added value for the investor.

  • Invested once, converted little – good returns due to high convertibility
  • Resources consumed once, used for a long time – good sustainability
  • Built once, many uses possible – good reusability
  1. Energy efficiency = process efficiency + area efficiency

Well-planned process efficiency of commercial buildings is reflected in short distances, in high value-added density, in visual relationships for agile working environments. Space is used optimally, whether multifunctionally or efficiently. This creates the desired concentration of work and energy provision for defined space offerings. Process and space efficiency thus contribute to low resource consumption such as energy.

  • Process optimization before energy efficiency
  • Space and volume optimization (heating volume, cooling volume) before technology optimization
  1. Vertical factory: Consistent use of land space

A factory with a future is represented on one level as an organism of networked value streams. By stacking production areas with self-contained production processes, land areas are used optimally, workplace density is increased and even energy is saved. An economical, resource-saving and flexible solution.

  • Making optimum use of land – increasing returns
  • Counteract land consumption
  • Increase job density per plot
  • Stacked areas require less energy
  1. Attractive office environment attracts employees from the home office

The office of the future offers open structures, communication zones and concentration areas in a balanced way. People choose the rooms and areas that best suit their work based on their needs over the course of the day. Offers of recreation or catering also contribute to a social environment, meeting and exchange and strengthen communication within the team. Attractive, creative and inviting office environments provide support here and offer employees an attractive alternative to a home office.

  • Strengthening communication within the team
  • Creativity thrives on “spatial physical proximity“
  1. Building materials with low CO2 footprint and recylability instead of standard support structures

“Gray energy” is the term used to describe the energy stored in the supporting structure or the CO2 footprint required to manufacture supporting structures. Structures account for a very high proportion of the total mass of a building and have a correspondingly large negative impact on our climate. Supporting structures made of concrete or structural steel can already be substituted today by manufacturing them from a sensible mix of sustainable and conventional building materials, thus creating an economical load-bearing solution with low “gray energy”. Wood in the supporting structure, green roofs and facades, and cultivated organic materials also provide the best energy properties for climate and energy efficiency.

  • Identify and modify the main CO2 reservoirs in the building
  • Creating sustainable structures with a creative mix of building materials
  1. Elemental, demountable building elements instead of composite building materials

The lifetime and climate friendliness of a factory is assessed over its entire life cycle: from raw material extraction, manufacturing, assembly and disassembly to scrapping. Dismountable components are reusable or recyclable, require little energy to dismantle, and thus make the greatest contribution to climate and maintenance efficiency alike.

  • Lowest energy consumption during disassembly
  • Separate reuse / recycling
  1. Prepare energy self-sufficiency – energy production in local environment

Making the production site autonomous and generating as high a proportion as possible for energy, i.e. heat, air conditioning and electricity, itself promotes resilience and the independence of the site from disruptions or even failures in the energy network. The self-sufficiency of the energy system is increasingly becoming a necessity for survival and thus a competitive advantage.

  • No power losses
  • Create direct influenceability
  • Return remains with the user/investor
  1. Energy monitoring enables valid decisions and success

Digital monitoring systems help in the responsible use of resources. When autonomous energy generation at the site and all energy consumers such as machines, facilities and plants are parallelized via monitoring, this becomes the industry benchmark.

  • Very good energy concepts are individual, not generalized/standardized
  • Only qualitative actual data enable good energy design
  • PDCA (Plan – Do – Check – Act) in the field of energy as a success factor for energy efficiency and resource conservation
  1. Simply planned and built instead of complicated designed and produced

An essential contribution is the architecturally experienced planning and realization of a zero-emission factory. Sustainable planning specifically reduces energy requirements and contributes to energy efficiency. Non-technical solutions, such as night cooling, should also be considered.

  • Non-technical solutions are also valuable (e.g. night cooling)
  • Only integrated, holistic planning enables clever solutions
  1. Standardization in plant technology and building design used consistently

The goal of standardization in construction projects with a focus on construction time and cost reduction means further requirements for a highly complex planning process by an integrated planning team. Standardization and the exploitation of the potential of industrial pre-production presuppose the assignment of the planning team throughout the entire planning phases. Only if the client clarifies his requirements in concrete terms at an early stage and then builds without any major changes will change-free advance planning, smooth pre-production and the rapid assembly of “modules” on the construction site work. As a builder and user, you can therefore make a major contribution to completing your project faster and more cost-effectively.

  • Synergy and optimization effects in industrial pre-production
  • Fast construction time for system components
  • Lower costs for modular systems according to the building block principle

You feel addressed by our recommendations and want to learn more? Please feel free to contact us!

Recent publications


We are delighted to be able to count another special project among our references: the sustainable factory of bordbar design GmbH. With the construction of this new building in Cologne, Germany, …

Read more »

34th German Assembly Congress

On June 5 and 6, the Assembly Congress in Munich, Germany, was all about future technologies. Under the motto “Assembly and AI”, experts from the industry came together …

Read more »

S + P at the meet@th-koeln

Every year, the TH Köln holds the career fair for technical degree courses on the Deutz campus, including on June 5 – 6. We were represented with a stand and were very pleased about …

Read more »

Start typing and press Enter to search