Four manufacturing trends shaping the Factory of the Future
The influence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has had a transformative effect on manufacturers and the way day-to-day operations are conducted.
Manufacturers must ensure factory operations are future-fit to accelerate transformation. As a result, it is important that companies seek to adopt and leverage the latest trends and disruptive technologies to obtain a competitive advantage. The four megatrends that are impacting factory landscapes and should be front and centre for decision-makers are:
- Skills Gap - Manufacturers will continue to see the challenges of a shrinking talent pool - particularly in developed nations. Some roles will disappear but these are likely be the mundane and repetitive tasks best completed by robots. Other positions will become available and these are set to be high value and knowledge-based to exploit the data within the system. Agile and adaptive change management is required to ensure that you effectively move between roles and gain access to or develop the new skills you need.
- Disruptive Technologies - IoT is only one of the many disruptive digital technologies that every manufacturer is faced with. Companies also have access to technologies such as advanced analytics, AI, drones, Blockchain, robotics, 3D printing and wearables. Production process requirements within every company are different so there is definitely no ‘one size fits all’ for the Factory of the Future.
- Digital Transformation - It enables every aspect of factory operations to be connected and monitored. This IoT data can be used to simply feed operational systems to improve performance, or blended with data from other enterprise systems to begin to change how the entire factory and supply chain operates.
- Data Monetisation - Data is the heartbeat for the Factory of the Future. Through applied AI and advanced analytics, data will drive all processes, detect operational errors, provide user feedback and improve the volume and quality of production output.
The manufacturing leaders of tomorrow are embracing game-changing technologies now and quickly transitioning from the old mindset of waiting for market advancements to settle in. Companies slow to adopt new trends take a significant risk, particularly post-COVID-19, as future and global rivals continue to move as the industry evolves.
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.