As we move into the last month of the year, we look back on some of our key achievements, from new customers to our Manufacturing X launch. For many manufacturers, too, the last quarter of the year is the time when Industry 4.0 investments made earlier start to bear fruit. Here are our top three from the month of November:
Ford Is Getting Into Autonomous Delivery
In a collaboration that is sure to shake up the transport and logistics landscape in the United States, Ford Motor Co. has announced a partnership with the giant retailer Walmart Inc. The project aims to cut out the middleman in shipping, by providing a driverless grocery delivery service.
As per Industry Week, "Ford vehicles will eventually be mocked up to appear autonomous and simulate the process of consumers retrieving their groceries without the help of a human driver."
This is a change from the current trends in the usage of autonomous vehicles, which have mostly focused on transporting commuters from place to place, and is the automotive version of delivery drones. Will this become the main use for autonomous vehicles? If, as the report states, shipping costs do wind up getting cut by 50%, you can bet it.
Swiss Corporation ABB Takes A Big Step Into China
Xiamen has become the site of Swiss Conglomerate ABB's new innovation and manufacturing centre. The industrial corporation inaugurated its new USD $300-million ABB Xiamen Hub this month, adding to its current China investment of more than USD $2.4-billion.
As per China Daily, that new hub would "integrate its businesses such as transportation, automation and infrastructure to provide packaged solutions and services for customers both in China and globally, and especially those related to the Belt and Road Initiative, and it also enables the company to demonstrate the potential of Industry 4.0 on its own premises."
This comes on the heels of a robotics plant in Shanghai that ABB announced last month, which can produce "100,000 industrial and service-function robots" per year. This 2020 factory would join ABB's global robotics supply system.
VW continues to bank on Electric Vehicles
A month after VW released plans to build a factory in Shanghai, the automotive manufacturer has doubled down on its electric vehicle plans, unveiling its intention to convert two of its existing factories in Germany into electric vehicle factories.
As per Automotive News, "VW's factories in Emden and Hanover will build battery-powered models starting early next decade", with the former starting in 2022. This is the second set of factories in Germany to be converted: the first is the Zwickau factory, which will start production in late 2019, and was converted at a cost of 1.2 billion euros. That is in line with the company's aim to "produce some 50 battery-powered models across VW’s 12 auto brands by 2025" in a bid to compete with Tesla, as per Industry Week.