Top 10: Smart Factories In Supply Chain Manufacturing

From Siemens to Samsung, from ABB to BMW, we bring you our rundown of the top ten smart factories having an impact on supply chain manufacturing

Smart factories increase productivity and efficiency. They mitigate risk, create advanced data analytics opportunities and help companies act proactively rather than reactively. Smart factories are manufacturing’s future in the eyes of many- including these major manufacturers. Here’s the Manufacturing Digital rundown of the top ten smart factories, and the manufacturers who are innovating, exploring and advancing in this space. 

10: Siemens

Siemens is at the forefront of implementing industry 4.0 technologies, with their smart factory development and investment. The global leader in industrial automation has a long history of working with manufacturers to enhance operations, now viewing the fusion between the physical and digital worlds as key to this process. 

Siemens offers a range of technologies designed to help manufacturers embrace smart factory development. Like the Siemens Xcelerator, a comprehensive portfolio of smart infrastructure implemented with an application development platform. There’s also EcoDomus, a digital twin application which allows customers to generate digital replicas of assets and buildings, for sophisticated and intricate levels of testing. 

09: General Electric (GE)

Leading manufacturer General Electric was named a leader by Gartner in their 2023 Magic Quadrant For Manufacturing Execution Systems for the company’s Proficy Smart Factory software solution. Gartner also identified the company as a customer’s choice in their Peer Insights category of the award.

Proficy Smart Factory is a suite of on-premise and cloud-based solutions, which transform operations through data integration, artificial intelligence and the industrial Internet of Things. The software has delivered holistic performance management and sizable results, with a 20% reduction in inventory, a 20% increase in capacity and a reduction of up to 20% in unplanned downtime.

08: FANUC

FANUC is a leading manufacturer of industrial robots. The company brings advanced automation and analytics together to help industrial companies make faster, more impactful business decisions.

The company's solutions include scalable Internet Of Things products, which enhance manufacturing efficiency by improving performance, quality and production. In its smart factory operations, FANUC have improved their manufacturing performance through AI and automation technologies, monitoring energy consumption and cutting costs.

07: BMW

The BMW Group has 30 smart factories in 14 countries, creating up to 10,000 vehicles worldwide every day. Over 3,000 machines, autonomous transport systems and robots are connected to the manufacturer's IoT platform, which utilises Microsoft Azure’s AI services. 

The company is utilising innovative smart factory solutions to provide enhanced customizability and premium products to its customers. As part of this, it has launched the Open Manufacturing Platform, partnering with Microsoft to do so.

“Mastering the complex task of producing individualised premium products requires innovative IT and software solutions,” says Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, on the company’s website. “The interconnection of production sites and systems as well as the secure integration of partners and suppliers are particularly important. We have been relying on cloud services since 2016 and are consistently developing new approaches.” 

06: Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric has reduced maintenance costs by as much as 50% and reduced energy costs by as much as 30% across their Smart Distribution Centers and Factories. Specialising in energy management and digital automation, the manufacturer is known for smart factories that use digitisation to reach sustainability goals. 

The company’s global smart factory operation- which spans Lexington, USA to Hyderabad, India- has been recognised as one of three ‘Sustainability Lighthouses’ by the World Economic Forum. These factories feature the manufacturer's innovative EcoStruxure, which implements IoT across the global supply chain. EcoStruxure helps reduce the company’s carbon footprints, costs and energy consumption, allowing for enhanced monitoring and insights. 

05: Toyota

Toyota is a global automobile manufacturer that has been adopting Industry 4.0 technology to create better-connected, smarter factories. The company helped pioneer lean manufacturing, eliminating waste and shortening lead time to deliver customers superior vehicles at a reduced cost. 

The Toyota Production System is based on two crucial philosophical pillars. The first is Jidoka, meaning automation with a “human touch”. What this translates into in real life is a practice of stopping immediately when abnormalities are detected in manufacturing, to improve productivity and prevent defective product production. The second is Just-in-Time, which is based on the idea of synchronising production processes, linking everything in one continuous flow to reduce waste and achieve greater efficiency.

These two pillars enable the production of vehicles that satisfy customer requirements quickly, at a low cost, and with high quality. This works in conjunction with Toyota’s principle of Kaizen- continuous improvement. 

04: Bosch

Bosch is a manufacturer renowned for its innovative manufacturing approaches, which include the use of digital twins, IoT and AI to enhance product quality and optimise production. Bosch has smart manufacturing software called Nexeed that connects diverse data streams, improves operations and ensures product quality and safety.

Nexeed is an industry 4.0 software suite that collects, organises and delivers data from more than 60,000 sensors in real-time developed by Bosch Connected Industry. The software makes predictive maintenance possible and at the company’s Blaichach plant has reduced disruptions in manufacturing operations by 25%. The software has an Industrial Application System that interfaces all Bosch’s manufacturing industry applications on a single user interface making complex information readily accessible. It also uses digital twins to homogenise data, making it easier to build machines, develop software and maintain production lines.

03: ABB

ABB is a leading automation manufacturer that has utilised smart manufacturing to mitigate risk whilst enhancing operational efficiency, and productivity. The company embraces smart manufacturing connectivity, using software-defined solutions to address supply chain and workforce dynamics.

As the demand for products grows, ABB sees manufacturing as the means to revitalise global economies, and smart manufacturing as the mechanism that will allow the sector to keep up with a dramatically changing world. 

02: Samsung

In the US and its Korean headquarters, Samsung, the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones since 2011, is embracing smart factories. In both countries, a full end-to-end 5G network has been implemented, and daily operations including shipment, transport, storage and manufacturing have been enhanced by AI, robotics and advanced analytics.

5G is the biggest smart factory innovation for Samsung, allowing the manufacturer to provide high-performance private network solutions to manufacturing operations. Their solutions include their compact core management system, professional services and indoor and outdoor radios. 

01: Foxconn

Major manufacturer Foxconn specialises in producing electrical equipment components including smartphones. The company has been investing in automation, AI and other smart manufacturing initiatives to upgrade production processes.

Foxconn’s lights-off factory in Shenzhen, China, has been awarded the “Manufacturing Lighthouse” distinction by the World Economic Forum. The factory, which has increased production efficiency by 30% and reduced inventory cycles by 15%, includes an intelligent self-maintenance and real-time production monitoring system. This is along with industrial robots that are connected to a private industrial 5G network, which have achieved latency below 100ms allowing for real-time data feedback and control.

The company’s Factory Management Control System (FMCS) uses IoT sensors to track energy consumption across the plant, a process which by reducing energy consumption has saved the company US$1.6M annually per facility.

Smart factories are dramatically changing the way manufacturers plan, operate and organise. Going forward expect to see more developments and advancements, which we will keep you informed of at Manufacturing Digital. 

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