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Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing (ESM)

Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing (ESM)

The Vanguard ESM Pilot initiative addresses the development of a European network of pilot plants in manufacturing efficiency and sustainability. It is aimed at sustaining the competitiveness of the European Manufacturing sector, by allowing the exploitation in Europe of innovative efficient technologies, methods, processes and standards in production, contributing to pollution and energy consumption reduction and facilitating smart usage of resources.

The ambition of the ESM pilot plants will be to address multiple enabling technologies in a systemic perspective, making available an infrastructure that is currently not existing, due its complexity and to the high innovation level of the industrial applications for which it is conceived. These pilots will be open to companies, constituting a neutral and cooperative playground for cross-sectorial and interregional collaboration, facilitating the access to state of the art and newest process technologies to all European manufacturing environment.

The process until today

Since its start-up, the ESM pilot has defined a structured methodology consisting in a mixed bottom-up and top-down process in which regional actors were called to express their priorities, in terms of pilot plants in a structured format and in line with regional S3 and the involvement of companies. Proposals were clustered considering their synergies and complementarities and inter-regional teams of European experts in charge of collaboratively develop pilot plants projects with a European added value are established. Out of about sixty regional proposals, five pilot plants projects emerged and during these years they have developed their contents. Up to now four demo-cases are following the steps of the defined methodology which consist of: i) Pilot Concept definition, ii) Business planning, iii) Pilots funding and implementation.

According to their status of progress, the activities that are implemented at pilot level are intended to support demo-cases with the aim of bringing the projects a step forward.To achieve this goal pilot coordinators and demo-case coordinators are working on the submission of project proposals under divers EU, national and/or regional programmes to foster the content development while at the same time leveraging on workshops and events to promote the cooperation and collaboration among the Regions and the actors involved and to further expand the existing network.

The ESM pilot organises two plenary meetings every year: one to report the midterm achievements of the demo-cases and the other one in December to provide an overview of the yearly progresses as well as to present the plan for the following year. For what concern the ongoing project activities through which the pilots and the demo-cases are supporting their development, there are: Greenomed (INTERREG MED)SCREEN (Horizon 2020)FiberEUse (Horizon 2020)CarE-Service (Horizon 2020).

Ongoing projects 

De- and remanufacturing (Circular economy)

Objective: Integrate a multidisciplinary set of advanced and innovative enabling technologies and digital innovations in the field De-and Remanufacturing (TRL 7-8)

Exploit the regional Smart Specializations in synergic way to offer services to European end-users, mainly manufacturing companies, to solve specific sustainability-oriented problems related to their products

Leading regions: Lombardy (IT)

Participating regions: Scotland (UK), Saxony (DE), Tampere (FI), Flanders (BE), Basque Country (ES), Norte (PT), Emilia Romagna (IT), Wallonia (BE)

Interested region to be included: East Netherlands (NL), South Netherlands (NL), Catalonia (ES), Pays de la Loire (FR)

Contact person: Marcello Colledani – marcello.colledani [at]




Smart and adaptive assembly and manufacturing systems

Objective: Develop a European network of highly reconfigurable and intelligent assembly/manufacturing systems to produce highly personalized components and products.

Reconfigurable intended as designed for rapid change in structure in response to sudden changes.

Intelligent conceived as equipped with technologies able to acquire, transfer, interpret, and analyse the information and to control the assembly/ manufacturing process.

Leading regions: South Netherlands (NL), Lombardy (IT)

Participating regions: Basque Country (ES), East Netherlands (NL), Emilia Romagna (IT), Flanders (BE), Norte (PT), Ranstad (NL), South Denmark (DK), Tampere (FI)

Contact persons: Coen de Gaaf – CdGraaf [at], Fabiana Pirola – fabiana.pirola [at]










 Advanced sustainable surface and material technologies 4 functional polymer components

Objective: Deployment and Integration of Networked Pilot lines and plants with processing and characterization capabilities for Sustainable polymer advanced surfaces manufacturing at large industrial scale, where to collaborate, validate and up-scale efficient, sustainable and economically competitive products and processes, are the objective of this pilot concept towards high TRL opportunities

Leading regions: Catalonia (ES)

Participating regions: Lombardy (IT), Auvergne Rhone Alpes (FR)

Interested region to be included: East Netherlands (NL) - Navarra (ES) – Pays de la Loire (FR)

Contact persons: Jordi Romero - jordi.romero [at]









Digital and virtual factory integrating planning and simulation into operative environments

Objective: Companies are supported in redesigning their capabilities and operating models to take full advantage of digital technologies and new business models, allowing at the same time to secure and strengthen their competitiveness and market position

To manage and integrate the processes of multiple factories in global networks

To offer methods and software solutions

Leading regions: South Netherlands (NL) and Tampere (FI), Lombardy (IT)

Participating regions: Catalonia (ES), Norte (PT), Pays de la Loire (FR), Saxony (DE), East Netherlands (NL)

Interested regions: Galicia (ES), Navarra (ES), South Denmark (DK), Trentino (IT)

Contact persons: Coen de Graaf - cdgraaf [at], Minna Lanz - minna.lanz [at], Sergio Gusmeroli – sergio.gusmeroli [at]








Energy-flexible and resource-efficient factory operations

Objective: Factory operation in various sectors with regards to resource efficiency (capture and storage of energy use and process data, simulation-based energy-sensitive factory control) and flexible use of energy (including e.g. integration of renewables and smart grids)

Creation of cross-regional Digital Platform that can facilitate the access of companies to innovative sustainability assessment tools

Leading regions: Saxony (DE) – Norte (PT)

Participating regions: Baden-Württemberg (DE) - Basque Country (ES) – Lombardy (IT) – Navarra (ES) - Pays de la Loire (FR) 

Contact person: Katja Haferburg katja.haferburg [at], Antonio Baptista abaptista [at]






Overview of leading regions and organisations

Leading Regions


Contact persons

  • Lombardy
  • AFIL
  • Supporting organisations ITIA-CNR – Politecnico di Milano – Università degli Studi di Bergamo

Giacomo Copani – giacomo.copani [at]

Roberta Curiazzi – roberta.curiazzi [at]

  • Catalonia

Joan Guasch - joan.guasch [at] eurecat.or

Overview of participating regions and organisations 


Main organisations

  • Auvergne Rhone Alpes
  • Plastipolis
  • Baden-Wurttemberg
  • Fraunhofer IPA
  • Basque Country
  • Tecnalia
  • East Netherlands
  • Polymer Science Park - oostnv
  • Emilia-Romagna
  • Fondazione Democenter
  • Flanders
  • SIRRIS – Ku Leuven
  • Galicia
  • Navarra
  • AIN
  • Norte
  • INEGI – Produtech - INESC
  • Scotland
  • Scottish Institute for Remanufacture
  • Saxony
  • Fraunhofer IWU
  • Slovenia
  • TECOS – PTP - TPLj
  • South Denmark


  • South Netherlands
  • Brainport - Noord Brabant Province
  • Tampere
  • Tampere University of Technology
  • Wallonia
  • Reverse Metallurgy Center
  • Pays de la Loire
  • EMC2

The future steps for the coming year

As outlined in the action plan, future actions consist in the reinforcement of industrial participation to the projects and the advancement of the actual state of the demo-cases. Accordingly, next steps will consist in the improvement of the conceptual definition of explorative projects, while for projects that are at more advanced definition level, resources should be identified to move towards the implementation phase.Several meetings will be held at regional and European level in an effort to improve the commitment of the industrials while reinforcing the cooperation among Regions and ensure the alignment with European initiatives. Coordinators will continue the identification of opportunities (i.e. initiatives and funded projects) for boosting the development of the ESM pilot.

Interesting links from the pilot 

Click here to see the ESM Mid Term event in Milan, 29.06.2018  

Click here to see the Reconfirm workshops supporting ESM demo-cases, 30.11.2017 / 01.12.2017

Contact persons

Giacomo Copani – giacomo.copani [at]
Roberta Curiazzi – roberta.curiazzi [at]