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9 Smart Manufacturing Examples of Industry 4.0

If there’s one field that has shown great advancements in technology is the manufacturing industry. Digital transformation technologies, such as cloud computing, wireless sensor networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be found in many smart manufacturing examples of Industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution). 

In this article, I go through 9 remarkable smart manufacturing examples of industry 4.0.

The great thing about smart manufacturing industry 4.0 is that it makes the production process faster, increasing its efficiency and sustainability. That’s also why sustainable manufacturing is one of the best examples of sustainable development. Read on!

9 Smart Manufacturing Examples of Industry 4.0

Smart factories examples: these are 9 real-world smart manufacturing examples of industry 4.0 and their key features!

1. Tesla Gigafactory – Berlin – Germany

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The Tesla Gigafactory is located on a 300-hectare property in Grünheide, Berlin. While it is the 4th Gigafactory built after the other three factories constructed in Shanghai, Nevada, and Buffalo, it is the very first Gigafactory built in Europe.

In addition, as the construction is expanded to achieve a production volume of 500,000 electric cars (learn the difference between hybrid vs electric car) per year, it could prove to be the biggest factory ever constructed by Tesla!

The Berlin Gigafactory is the most advanced electric vehicle production plant globally. The factory mainly manufactures powertrains, batteries, and high-volume vehicles, including Model 3 and Model Y.

However, Tesla does more than just produce smart cars; it also uses smart means for the production process. For example, the smart factory features solar panels on the rooftop (see also: questions to ask a solar company), encouraging a more sustainable production process and reducing operational costs.

The Gigafactory is not the typical car factory. It’s not just the size of the factory that’s impressive, it’s the way that it’s run that’s truly unique.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has leveraged digital transformation technologies such as artificial intelligence to create a process called “automating intelligently.” This process combines automation with AI technologies to create a showcase project for Industry 4.0 and its benefits.

However, artificial intelligence is not the only tech leveraged for this great example of smart manufacturing, in fact, Tesla Cloud is also used extensively.

One way this is being done is by storing driver profiles in the cloud. This is especially useful for car sharing, as it would allow the seat and mirrors to be automatically adjusted to the user.

Additionally, software updates could be easily carried out via the Cloud. The Gigafactory is setting the standard for car manufacturing – and it’s only going to keep getting better.

Indeed, the Tesla Gigafactory represents an impressive smart factory example. Tesla has significantly transformed how industries function and contributed to the revolution of the vehicle industry.

2. Infineon’s Smart Factory – Dresden – Germany

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Infineon has one of the most intelligent networks and smart factory setups in the world.

Located in Dresden, the factory specializes in producing semiconductors, shock absorbers, comfort electronics and safety systems, such as ESP and airbags.

There are more than 200 robots that assist humans in the production processes, ensuring faster and more efficient manufacturing.

All the system controls, production management, and water transport used by the company are interconnected and linked to each other through IT systems. And as an added advantage, the systems have the ability to communicate with other sites around the world.

Furthermore, the Infineon Smart Factory invests in modern industry 4.0 technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and continuously develops new solutions for the electronics and automotive industries.

Besides, the company uses digital twins to simulate the effects of changes regularly to its product portfolio. Not only does this move optimize production control for the industry, but it also gives operators the freedom to respond to their client’s needs in a more flexible manner.

3. Haier Group – Qingdao- China

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The Haier Group Corporation is located in Qingdao, Shandong. It specializes in producing consumer electronics and home appliances, such as washing machines, microwaves, wine coolers, fridges and ovens, just to mention a few.

The smart factory has several strategic goals put in place to encourage the implementation of artificial intelligence in the manufacturing processes. 

For example, the Haier Group incorporates a service cloud platform and a mass customization platform that helps operators detect any problems in the system, putting them in a better position to correct these mistakes early before they can have permanent consequences on the products or industrial performance.

Moreover, Haier, China Mobile, Huawei, and M-Star released the world’s first 5G Smart Factory joint solution. The 5G Smart Factory implements smart systems for quality detection, maintenance, machine collaboration, material transportation, energy management, and security. Achieving the strategic goal of becoming one of the examples of sustainable development and manufacturing.

The 5G machine vision system has been deployed in the Haier factory in Qingdao, China. It significantly improves the efficiency of smart visual detection applications and reduces deployment and maintenance costs.

Through software updates, factories can also update applications on the fly, which reduces the impact of service interruption caused by the upgrade and maintenance of industrial computers.

Those technologies can also improve the production efficiency of new products, the overall quality, and the time to market. Therefore, consumers can have faster access to high-quality products.

In addition, cloud and edge computing collaboration implements plug-and-play of edge nodes and supports the maintenance at the local end.

This is without a doubt a very interesting smart manufacturing example in China!

4. Adidas Speed Factory – Ansbach – Germany

The Adidas Speed Factory was built in Ansbach, Germany. As Adidas defines it, it is the factory of the future.

With the help of robots that assist humans, the factory specializes in the production of shoes (mainly sneakers). It focuses on mass customization, leading to shorter lead times where the production process is completed within just a few days.

The Adidas Speed Factory utilizes 3D printing technology to create digital mock-ups and replicas of the sneakers. The prototypes are usually printed quickly to meet the regularly changing customer demands and satisfy their needs and preferences within days.

However, it is important to note that, as of now, the Speed Factory has shut down in Ansbach. 

Even so, the speed factory technologies are still used in the production of athletic footwear in different countries in Asia, such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

These factories employ smart technologies in the production process, such as computerized knitting, robotic arms, laser-cutting robots and 3D printing. In fact, the factories are now incorporating 4D technology in the production processes to make them easier and much more effective.

5. BJC HealthCare, St. Louis – Missouri – USA

Located in Illinois and Missouri, BJC HealthCare operates a total of 15 hospitals.

It is one of the best examples of smart manufacturing and industry 4.0 industries in healthcare. Incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) in their processes.

The non-profit healthcare organization uses an inventory management solution to save on costs in the supply chain.

It also utilizes RFID technology (radio frequency identified) to track all the medical supplies, making their management much easier.

By including the RFID technology in their processes, the HealthCare organization has significantly reduced the quantity of stock kept on-site at every facility.

Besides, the company predicts that the organization will be able to further increase profits once the RFID tagging is implemented to the full.

Indeed, IoT has helped the BJC HealthCare Organization reduce costs, increase the efficiency of operations and improve the overall functioning of the company.

For sure one of the most interesting industry 4.0 examples.

6. Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes – Ireland

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The Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes factory was established in 1997 in Ireland. It is a medical facility whose specialties are sports medicine, joint reconstruction, spinal surgery, craniomaxillofacial, and trauma.

In recent years, the company has undergone an upgrade worth millions; an upgrade that aims to incorporate more digitalized processes and Industry 4.0 technologies.

Among the most significant investments that Depuy Synthes has done is incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) in its processes. IoT is mainly used to create digital twins (or digital versions of physical assets) that lead to advanced machine insights.

Utilizing IoT in most of the industry’s operations has significantly reduced operational costs and lowered machine downtime due to machine insights.

7. Bosch Connected Factory – Blaichach – Germany

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The Connected Factory in Blaichach is Bosch‘s lead plant for manufacturing automotive components. The system specializes in producing different safety systems, such as electronic stability programs (ESP) and anti-lock braking systems (ABS).

The factory employs cutting-edge technology in the manufacturing processes. It uses tablets each day to check parts, inspect machines, and track processes, providing quality data that is usually overlooked by different machine operators.

Also, Bosch Connected Factory includes a performance tracker system that identifies any cycle-time deviations, making it possible for operators to react fast and make any needed interventions or corrections at early stages.

What’s even better, the operator support system shows the errors made during the processes and provides possible solutions for fixing them.

Another smart technology used in the Blaichach Connected Factory is Nexeed; a software suite developed by the connected industry cluster to ensure the smooth running of the production process. This software reads essential data from more than 60,000 sensors, delivering this information to the right client on time. Therefore, the team is able to keep track of all manufacturing operations and make predictive maintenance.

So far, these skillful innovations employed in the factory have contributed to an increase in the production of ESP/ABS safety systems.

Moreover, the factory uses hydroelectric energy, and the power consumption is monitored and optimized via software, allowing for the reduction of waste of electric power.

8. Schneider Electric – France

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The Scheider Electric Company manufactures equipment used in automation, supply services, distribution and installation. These include tools such as smart fuses, signaling devices, inverters, switchgear, push buttons, actuators, circuit breakers and indicators, just to mention a few.

Besides manufacturing smart tools and equipment, the factory also employs Industry 4.0 revolution technology in the manufacturing processes at a grand scale. It incorporates the latest digital technologies; an aspect that has led it to be ranked among the most advanced production sites in the world. 

For example, the manufacturing company utilizes the “EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor“. This technology allows operators to speed up their operations and improve maintenance by simply using augmented reality. In turn, this helps to boost productivity rates from a mere 2% to 7%. Besides, the first application of the Advisor software saves energy up to 30%.

This also allowed the Schneider Electric smart factory to be recognized as one of the sustainability lighthouses by the World Economic Forum.

9. Siemens Elektronikwerk Plant – Amberg – Germany

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The Siemens Elektronikwerk Plant employs some of the best Industry 4.0 solutions in its production processes. People, robots and machines work as a team to develop programmable logic controllers (PLC).

Machines and products are also connected in a comprehensive network, enhancing the performance and efficiency of the industrial processes. 

The Siemens Plant incorporates dashboards that help to improve the products and processes carried out in the industry. Also, these dashboards provide crucial data about the quality of the products and the performance of the machines in real time.

With this valuable information, workers and machine operators can react quickly to any deviations and solve issues before it’s too late.

The smart manufacturing company mainly relies on Industry 4.0 elements. Some of the smart technologies applied in the production processes include flexible AGVs, 3D printing, and lightweight robots.

Also, the company utilizes the MindSphere IoT platform that helps operators to facilitate predictive maintenance by responding to potential system failures early.

Besides, Siemens also invests in technologies, such as Industrial Edge computing, AI, and Cloud solutions.

What Is Smart Manufacturing?

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Smart manufacturing is a manufacturing approach that uses internet-connected machinery to improve the efficiency and performance of the production process.

This approach tries to identify any opportunities for automating operations, optimizing production processes, and reducing the wastage of resources. Also, it involves using data analytics and combining software, hardware, and mechanics; activities that help to improve the overall performance of the manufacturing process.

To ensure that all industrial processes are automated and digitalized, smart manufacturing utilizes modern tools and new technologies. Here are the main technologies that are involved in smart manufacturing:

  • Artificial learning
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Edge computing
  • Cloud data storage
  • Predictive analysis
  • Business intelligence
  • Blockchains
  • Data analysis
  • Driverless vehicles and drones

These technologies and tools are usually interconnected to monitor the operations of the industry.

However, note that adopting these technologies in your manufacturing company will require heavy investments in equipment and devices. Besides, you will need to hire skilled and qualified staff who have enough experience in conducting activities, such as predictive analyses and data analysis. Still, the numerous benefits that smart manufacturing offers outdo all the associated negatives.

For example, smart manufacturing boosts productivity by providing reliable, real-time data that allows workers to predict any possible failures in the production process and solve them before it’s too late. Also, since it optimizes asset utilization, smart manufacturing ensures on-time delivery, so that clients and customers always get their products on time and their needs satisfied as per their expectations. 

In addition to providing benefits to the industry itself, smart manufacturing also benefits environmental sustainability. The smart processes employed in the production process ensure that all resources are planned for and utilized well, preventing any underuse or overproduction. In turn, the efficient use of the resources helps to save on costs, improving economic, social, and environmental sustainability at the same time. Indeed, all the benefits that smart manufacturing offers make it worthwhile, despite the associated high input and management costs.

Conclusion

Newer and more advanced digital technologies are being developed every day, and the manufacturing industry is at the front line of incorporating these technologies, bringing about a new era of smart manufacturing.

Here are the 9 best smart manufacturing examples of industry 4.0:

  1. Tesla Gigafactory – Berlin – Germany
  2. Infineon’s Smart Factory – Dresden – Germany
  3. Haier Group – Qingdao- China
  4. Adidas Speed Factory – Ansbach – Germany
  5. BJC HealthCare, St. Louis – Missouri – USA
  6. Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes – Ireland
  7. Bosch Connected Factory – Blaichach – Germany
  8. Schneider Electric – France
  9. Siemens Elektronikwerk Plant – Amberg – Germany

Humans and machines now work together, reducing the risk of errors, improving the overall performance in the industries, and better yet, enhancing sustainability as overproduction or underproduction are curbed.

Therefore, as a manufacturer, if you want to stay on the upper side of the digital era, it is high time you started harnessing the smart technologies that drive Industry 4.0!