4 ways IoT tech is revolutionising production lines
The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t a new topic of discussion. Connected “things” are everywhere – from refrigerators to watches and cars – changing our interactions with friends, family and co-workers. While IoT discussions often centre on consumer use, there is great potential for adoption on the manufacturing shop floor.
Today’s factory bears little resemblance to the stereotypical image of manufacturing. Long gone are the days of repetitious assembly lines where workers create part after identical part. Today’s modern shop floor is a hub of technology, full of sensors, electronic controls and automated equipment. These interconnected devices drive efficiency, quality and flexibility. Here’s where I see the biggest impact of these new connections.
Factory productivity continues to rise, as plants produce more and more with ever increasing efficiency and quality. Connected tools and machines are a key aspect of these gains. Take the IP (Internet Protocol) torque wrench in the assembly of a complex part, for example. When connected to the cloud, the IP torque wrench captures the torque applied to a specific part, the specific wrench that was used, when that wrench was last calibrated and the employee who used it. Faults can be detected in real time, and even when they’re missed the cloud can trace every part affected back to the root cause. Quality and speed are improved.
More customizable products
As customer demands for products change, manufacturers adjust. Automation and the connected factory produce a wider variety of products and product variations in smaller quantities more quickly, answering the market’s increasing demand for near-custom and highly configured products. Fast, efficient and flexible computerized machines are provided instructions for the exact requirements for each product at each moment of production. This is a full-scale transformation of the old-style “economies of scale” approach that drove mass-produced consumer goods.
Safer shop floors
Wearable technologies have the potential to further connect people with plant information, delivering real time machine and production data to operators and managers on the shop floor. As importantly, smart devices connected through a cloud ERP system can improve safety by enabling people and equipment to literally see around corners. For instance, a smart safety vest or a Bluetooth ‘beacon’ will help forklifts and their operators “see” employees and obstacles and provide both alerts or even automatically apply brakes to ensure safety.
Beyond the four walls of the production facility, the shift to cloud-based software systems allows employees, suppliers and customers worldwide to view the status of an order, work-in-progress, inventory, equipment availability, and much more. Visibility won’t stop when the product leaves the plant. Smart products will not only interact with the customer in new ways but will also be able to stay in contact with the producer for better long-term performance, maintenance and support. Quality issues not only get service attention, but can influence future product design. Connected smart technology and the Internet of Things brings the processes and the products together into a new ecosystem for added customer value.
Lion Electric to Construct US EV Manufacturing Facility
Who is Lion Electric?
Founded in 2008, is an innovative manufacturer of all-electric, zero-emissions, medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles. Lion Electric designs, manufactures, and assembles all components for its vehicles that have unique features specifically adapted to the users and their needs. “We believe that transitioning to all-electric vehicles will lead to major improvements in our society, environment and overall quality of life,” believes Lion Electric.
Lion Electric’s new Illinois Manufacturing Facility
Just two months after announcing plans to construct a battery manufacturing plant and innovation centre in Quebec, Lion Electric is expanding its locations further, selecting Joliet, Illinois for its new manufacturing facility in the US.
The new facility is said to “represent the largest dedicated production site for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the US,” as well as being the company’s biggest footprint in the market. The new facility will give Lion Electric the capacity to meet increasing demand for ‘Made in America’ zero-emission vehicles and bring production closer to customers.
It is expected that the first vehicles off the production line will be in the second half of 2022.
“Lion’s historic investment to bring its largest production facility to Illinois represents not only a win for our communities, but a strong step forward in our work to expand clean energy alternatives and the jobs they bring to our communities,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“The new Joliet facility will put Illinois at the forefront of a national movement to transition to zero-emission vehicle use, advancing our own goals of putting one million of these cars on the road by 2030. In Illinois, we know that a clean energy economy is about more than just vehicles – it’s about healthier communities and jobs for those who live there. We are excited to welcome Lion to the Land of Lincoln and look forward to their future success here.”
Lion Electric’s Agreement with the Government of Illinois
Over the next three years, Lion Electric will invest a minimum of US$70mn into Illinois. The new facility - totalling 900,000 square feet - is expected to create a minimum of 745 clean energy direct jobs in the next three years, and have an annual production capacity of up to 20,000 all electric buses and trucks.
Scaling electric bus production and decarbonising freight and transportation
As the US moves to electrifying its school buses, the additional production capacity at the facility will help Lion Electric to scale its electric bus production, as well as produce an increased volume of heavy-duty zero-emission trucks to help governments and operators in the US further the decarbonisation of freight and transportation fleets.
“Lion is the leader in electric school buses and has always been dedicated to the U.S. market, and our commitment to be close to our customers is one of the core values we have as a company. This significant expansion into the U.S. market will not only allow us to drastically increase our overall manufacturing capacity of electric trucks and buses but to also better serve our customers, while adding critical clean manufacturing jobs that will form the backbone of the green economy,” said Marc Bedard, CEO and Founder of Lion.
“I also want to acknowledge the crucial role that P33 and Intersect Illinois, civic groups committed to developing developing a long-term roadmap for the local tech industry, played in connecting Lion with the Chicago area’s business and civic community to help further commercial traction, as well as engagement with key workforce and supplier partners.”