Jul 13, 2020

BCG Global Survey: What is Factory of the Future?

Factory of the Future
Digital Factory
Sean Galea-Pace
3 min
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution is firmly underway in manufacturing, many organisations are leveraging new technology to gain a competitive advantage.
BCG: Boston Consulting Group looks at the future of Digital Factories and the future of Manufacturing Technologies...

The future of manufacturing is exciting. Digital transformation promises to offer a number of key advantages and adopting new technology is essential to maintaining cost competitiveness, delivering client services and attracting talent. With a plethora of technological innovation to choose from featuring robotics and automation, it has accelerated interest in the Factory of the Future. Manufacturing Global takes a closer look at the future of the industry.

What is Factory of the Future?

The Factory of the Future is a vision for how manufacturers should enhance production by making improvements in three dimensions: plant structure, plant digitisation and plant processes. 

Plant Structure

In a Boston Consulting Group global survey of 750 production managers from leading companies in three sectors: automotive, engineered products and process industries, the majority of respondents expect plant structure to be important in the Factory of the Future. 86% of those surveyed anticipated plant structure to be vital in 2030, compared with 43% when surveyed. 

  • Multidirectional layout
  • Modular line startup
  • Sustainable production

Plant Digitisation

Manufacturers are increasingly using digital technologies. Of automotive respondents, 70% said that plant digitisation would be highly relevant in 2030, in comparison with 13% who think it is important when surveyed. Companies are achieving smarter automation and harnessing efficiency in several ways. 

  • Installing smart robots
  • Using collaborative robots
  • Implementing additive manufacturing
  • Employing augmented reality
  • Applying production simulations
  • Developing immersive training sessions
  • Implementing decentralised production steering
  • Using Big Data and Analytics

Plant Processes

Through new digital technologies, manufacturers are taking lean management to the next level and exploiting its full potential. BCG’s survey shows that optimising plant processes is expected to be even more fundamental in the future, with 97% of automotive respondents acknowledging that lean management would be highly relevant in 2030, in comparison to 70% when surveyed. According to BCG, digital technologies are further enhancing customer-centricity and continuous improvement strategies.

Customer-centricity: Manufacturers are gaining a more complete understanding of customer needs by applying Big Data analytics to gather insights into how customers use products. In turn, companies are using these customer insights to improve their product designs and production processes. Companies are also aiming to use new technologies to allow customers to provide input regarding the production of their vehicle. For example, Daimler’s customers are able to request last-minute modifications, such as a change to a vehicle’s colour while en-route to the paint shop.

Continuous Improvement: Manufacturers are leveraging a range of new technologies to provide more value-adding activities and to continuously improve production processes. Bosch has introduced software that analyses data about its production of fuel injectors in real-time. The software monitors process adherence and recognises trends. This automatically transmits information about deviations to operators, enabling them to improve the process as a result.

Interested in reading more? Check out BCG’s article “The Factory of the Future.” 

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May 10, 2021

Timeline: Tesla's Construction of Gigafactories

Georgia Wilson
3 min
Sustainable Manufacturing | Gigafactory | Electric Vehicles | EVs | Tesla | Smart Manufacturing | Automotive Manufacturing | Technology
A brief timeline of Tesla’s Gigafactory construction progress over the years, furthering its efforts in sustainable energy and electric vehicles...

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. "

Tesla Gigafactories

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.

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