5 Minutes With: Emmanuel Routier (Orange Business Services)
Why is digitalisation important to manufacturing?
The manufacturing industry, throughout history, has always been at the forefront of innovation and technological change. While many see it as something old and set in its ways, it has a long history of pioneering new ways of operating. The industrial revolution was spearheaded by manufacturers and transformed the world into something unrecognisable. Moving towards a more digitalised world is simply the next step in this ongoing evolution.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for manufacturers to accelerate their digital transformation having exposed areas of weakness in operations and supply chains. New digital technology will be of the utmost importance in overcoming these weaknesses and getting our economies back on track.
What does digital transformation mean to you?
Digital transformation is progress and evolution. It is the natural progression of how businesses operate, with new digital technology replacing manual and archaic processes. It is a process that has been ongoing for at least a decade or more and we are now at a critical point where businesses no longer have the choice of whether to pursue it but must now decide when and how they take the step towards a brighter, greener future.
Digital transformation in manufacturing specifically will usher in a new era where technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and the internet of things (IoT) give manufacturers the ability to be more agile and produce better quality products, faster and more efficiently.
What trends do you see emerging when it comes to smart manufacturing and the digitalisation of its functions and operations?
Orange Business Services recently undertook a piece of research examining how the last turbulent twelve months has impacted on companies’ approaches to digitalisation and examined a number of different trends across a range of industries.
First and foremost, the pandemic highlighted risks and challenges in supply chains that had a huge impact throughout 2020 on manufacturing – 83% of business leaders say they are more aware of supply chain risks than they were a year ago. Despite the development of vaccines, it will be some time before the disruption of the ongoing pandemic ceases to have a detrimental impact on our supply chains. Because of this, one of the most immediate considerations is how we can digitalise supply chains to help them run effectively and efficiently while avoiding the ongoing disruptions.
The technology asset that organisations will be looking to harness increasingly in the coming months and years will be data. Real-time data can now be captured in cost-effective ways to power better workflows that extend across an ecosystem of partners. As it stands however, just 45% of businesses are using real-time data insights to drive their operations today. We believe that this will likely double over the next two years.
Another trend that we see emerging at an increasing pace is the role of sustainability in the manufacturing industry. In our research, we discovered that around 80% of companies are investing in digital technologies to become a more sustainable business. This year, sustainability will be increasingly on top of the agenda and with COP26 around the corner, companies will be vying to highlight their own green credentials. For manufacturers, digitisation will be key to achieving their green ambitions, using real-time data and advanced analytics to monitor sustainability factors such as energy, fuel and water usage.
What’s next for you in the next 12-18 months?
5G is a game changer for Industry and its digital transformation. 5G enables industry to digitalise & improve its network infrastructure on industrial campuses, increasing employee productivity with stronger performance of Industry 4.0 use cases and the automation of industrial processes offering stronger flexibility.
This will be my primary focus in the coming months, further supporting the industry in their digital transformation and realising Industry 4.0 use cases with 5G technology.
What inspires you?
Human nature has always been a source of inspiration for me. The way that humanity can come together even during the most trying times and find solutions, cooperating and collaborating to elevate itself. Most recently, the efforts to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 has been a delight to witness, seeing competitors joining forces to overcome the greatest challenge in our lifetimes.
What are your favourite things to do outside of work?
Outside of COVID restrictions, being in nature, mountain biking with the children and enjoying the sun are my favourite ways to relax. However, during these times of lockdown I have found that having a good diner with my wife and friends and spending some quality time socialising is definitely helping to bring some variety to my daily routine.
Timeline: Tesla's Construction of Gigafactories
Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy
Founded in 2003, Tesla was established by a group of engineers with a drive to "prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker and more fun to drive than gasoline cars." Almost 20 years on, Tesla today is not only manufacturing all electric vehicles, but scaleable clean energy generation and storage too.
"Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better," says Tesla. "Electric cars, batteries, and renewable energy generation and storage already exist independently, but when combined, they become even more powerful – that’s the future we want. "
In order to deliver on its promise of "accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles and energy products," Tesla's Gigafactory journey began in 2014 to meet its produciton goals of 500,000 cars per year (a figure which would require the entire worlds supply of lithium-ion batteries at the time).
By ramping up its production and bringing it in-house, the cost of Tesla 's battery cells declined "through economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimisation of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof." With this reduction in battery cost, "Tesla can make products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy."
2014: Giga Nevada and Giga New York begin construction
Born out of necessity to meet its own supply demand for sustainable energy, Tesla began the construction of its first Gigafactory in June 2014, in Reno, Nevada, followed by its Buffalo, New York facility the same year. "By bringing cell production in-house, Tesla manufactures batteries at the volumes required to meet production goals, while creating thousands of jobs," said Tesla.
2016: Reno, Nevada grand opening
Tesla’s construction of Giga Nevada came to an end in 2016, the first of its Gigafactories to complete its construction project. The factory’s grand opening took place in July 2016, and by mid-2018 reached an annual battery production rate of 20 GWh, which made it the highest-volume battery plant in the world that year.
2017: Giga New York begins production
Two years after Tesla’s second Gigafactory began construction, Giga New York was complete, and started its production operations in 2017.
2019: Giga Shanghai construction to production in record time
In 2019, Tesla selected Shanghai as its third Gigafactory location. The company constructed the factory in record time, taking just 168 working days from gaining permits to finishing the plant's construction.
2019: Giga Berlin begins construction
Announced in November 2019, Tesla began the construction of its first European Gigafactory in Berlin. The Gigafactory is still under construction.
2020: Giga Texas begins construction
The following year in August 2020, Tesla began the construction of its Giga Texas factory. The company’s third Gigafactory in the US is still under construction.
2021: Giga Texas and Giga Berlin expected completion of construction
Looking to the future, Tesla expects to complete the construction of its Giga Texas and Giga Berlin factories in May 2021 and July 2021 respectively.