Revolution on the factory floor at Siemens – Forbes Insights
A recent article on Forbes Insights is well worth a read for those interested in how new technology is impacting and revolutionising the factory floor, based on insights from Siemens.
The World Economic Forum predicted Industry 4.0 “will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”
Fueled by advances in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and computing speed, businesses — from auto to aerospace to retail — are changing the fundamental building blocks of how they operate.
By 2030, machine learning could contribute nearly $16 trillion to the global economy, research shows.
For Mrosik and Siemens, the revolution is well underway. Manufacturing plants increasingly rely on smart machines and interconnected devices to build products cheaper, faster and more efficiently. In August of 2018, Siemens unveiled a new strategy, Vision 2020+, an ambitious plan to revamp the 170-year-old behemoth into a shinier, new, AI-age version of itself, shedding older lines of businesses while investing in technology it believes will allow it to dominate in the digital era.
To see the fourth industrial revolution in action, take a trip to Siemens’ factory in Amberg, Germany. Here, in a facility that has been in production since 1989 — before most people knew the World Wide Web even existed — the transformation from analog manufacturing to analytics-fueled digital production is unfolding in real time.
The Amberg factory in Bavaria has a particularly complex job — the 100,000-square-foot facility manufactures more than 1,200 different products. This means its production line must change configurations approximately 350 times a day, says Mrosik. In the past, this was a laborious process that required workers to spend time making changes to equipment and machinery by hand.
Now, before anything even hits the line, a computer model creates a digital version of the products, the production line and the manufacturing process itself, helping to streamline and speed up the time it takes to set up new configurations. Digital twins are explained.
By running a digital dress rehearsal of, say, an engine’s assembly, the company can see where there might be bottlenecks, inefficiencies or unexpected needs, whether for additional materials or safety measures.
The Amberg factory is a microcosm of a much bigger story. What’s happening here is happening across manufacturing floors around the world using digital twins to accelerate product design and manufacturing. Automakers, for example, once had to create physical prototypes to design and test new models; now they can create computerized versions that look and behave like real cars.