The first month of 2019 is almost over and we’re heavily preparing for our upcoming events (to be announced soon!) for the rest of the year. Right before Chinese New Year starts next week, here’s our monthly round-up of the Industry 4.0 news all manufacturers should know:
Foxconn Goes ‘Lights-Off’
In case you weren’t aware, Shanghai-listed Foxconn (which is Apple’s largest manufacturing contractor) has a plant in Shenzhen that employs ‘lights-off’ or ‘lights-out’ manufacturing. This means that the factory is fully automated and uses robots in the production line, requiring fewer human workers on site.
Foxconn has announced that their ‘lights-off’ factory has recently been added to the World Economic Forum (WEF) shortlist of ‘Manufacturing Lighthouses’, i.e. manufacturing facilities with industry 4.0-leading innovation. It joins a total of just 15 other factories that have received this accolade.
As per KR Asia and WEF, Foxconn’s factory has increased production efficiency by 30% and reduced inventory cycle by 15% with its ‘automated optimization system for Machine Learning and AI devices, an intelligent self-maintenance system, and an intelligent real-time monitoring system’.
Siemens Develops Edge Device
German conglomerate Siemens has been pushing boundaries when it comes to Industry 4.0; they’ve sponsored a lab at the HCM University of Technology in Vietnam, and also developed a Industrial Edge Platform that will capture and process data in (almost) real-time.
This edge device, as per Drives & Controls, ‘has an enclosed, all-metal housing, (and) is designed for flexible, maintenance-free operation in harsh conditions’. The aim is to bridge the gap between local and cloud-based data processing of large data volumes.
To test out the platform, Siemens is using it themselves in one of their factories in Amberg, Germany. Sensor data will be transmitted to the device, and then analysed by a machine learning algorithm that can flag abnormalities. So far, ‘the edge application can predict bearing erosion and machine downtime 12–36 hours before a failure occurs. This allows the machine spindle to be changed during the next scheduled service, thus avoiding costly unplanned downtime.’
Jabil Engineers Materials for Additive Manufacturing
Global electronics manufacturer Jabil has announced that it will launch ‘a complete solution for creating, integrating and validating custom engineered materials for additive manufacturing’, per Manufacturing Global.
These Jabil Engineered Materials were designed after a survey sponsored by the company showed that a crucial factory impeding adoption of 3D printing was the cost and availability of materials.
The first industry that Jabil will target is Aerospace, which requires heavily-engineered parts that are usually customised for optimal weight.