This is What a Smart Factory Looks Like
Staff posted on January 10, 2019 |
The Sandvik Coromont plant in Gimo, Sweden. (Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
The Sandvik Coromont plant in Gimo, Sweden. (Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
The World Economic Forum has announced the addition of seven new factories to its network of “Manufacturing Lighthouses”, state-of-the-art facilities that serve as world leaders in the adoption and integration of the cutting-edge technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Lighthouses join a group of nine others, which were unveiled in 2018. All were selected from an initial list of 1,000 manufacturers based on their successful implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies in ways that have had positive financial and operational effects.

The wider purpose of the community is to help overcome the practical challenges that come with upgrading technology. Earlier work by the Forum determined that more than 70 percent of businesses investing in technologies—such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) or 3D printing—fail to move beyond the pilot phase. In response to this, all Lighthouses in the network have agreed to open their doors and share their knowledge with other manufacturing businesses.

(Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
(Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
The new Lighthouses represent a range of industries and geographical locations, with four factories located in Europe, two in China and one in the Middle East. Importantly, the list also contains a medium-sized business, the Italian-based Rold. One frequent challenge highlighted by businesses is that they lack the scale and resources to implement advanced technologies cost effectively.

The new Lighthouses are:

BMW Group (Regensburg Plant, Germany): This car plant manufactured approximately 320,000 vehicles in 2018. By using the custom BMW internet of things platform, it incurred time and cost, but the result has been cut the time to deploy all new applications by 80 percent, leading to a significant reduction in logistics costs and 5 percent reduction in quality issues.

Danfoss, Commercial Compressors (Tianjin, China): This factory makes compressors for refrigerators, air conditioning units and other products. By using its digital traceability system and digital tools such as smart sensors, visual inspection, auto monitoring system etc. to improve quality control, it has improved labor productivity by 30 percent and decreased customer complaints by 57 percent within two years.

(Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
(Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
Foxconn (Shenzhen, China): “Lights off factory” – This factory, which specializes in components for smartphones and other electrical equipment, is characterized as having a fully automated manufacturing process with machine learning and AI driving auto optimization of equipment, smart self-maintenance and real-time status monitoring in smart production. These technologies have resulted in efficiency gains of 30 percent and lowered the factory’s stock cycle by 15 percent.

Rold (Cerro Maggiore, Italy): This 240-employee business makes locking mechanisms for washing machines and dishwashers. As the only SME in the Lighthouse network, its use of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as smart watches, rapid prototyping and digital dashboards has helped improve turnover 7 – 8 percent, according to Rold.

Sandvik Coromant (Gimo, Sweden): The cutting tool manufacturer has created a digital thread through its production processes that has significantly increased labour productivity. One example is its ‘touchless changeover’ which allows design patterns to be changed automatically, even during unmanned shifts.

(Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
(Image courtesy of Sandvik Coromant.)
Saudi Aramco Uthmaniyah Gas Plant (Uthmaniyah, Saudi Arabia): This gas processing plant utilizes a number of Industry 4.0 technologies, including advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence, deploying drones to inspect pipelines and machinery (cutting inspection times by 90 percent) and wearable technologies such as digital helmets that help workers reduce inspection and repair times.

Tata Steel (IJmuiden, The Netherlands): This plant of 9,000 employees is creating an Advanced Analytics Academy to help workers come up with solutions to reduce waste and improve the quality and reliability of production processes. According to the company, this work has resulted in a significant improvement in financial results.

For more Industry 4.0 news, find out how Samir Hanna’s Startup Promises Smart Factories for All.

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