How smart technology is transforming the industrial world
Martin Walder, VP Industrial Automation at Schneider Electric, discusses the ways in which the industrial world is transforming as a result of smart technology.
When it comes to the world of manufacturing, Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things and Smart manufacturing are all terms we hear thrown around a lot. Whilst these terms can all be used in isolation; they share one very important commonality – they are all impacted by digital transformation.
A smarter world
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the smart landscape can be defined as “fully integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network and in customer needs”.
At present, manufacturing systems are benefitting from an array of new, innovative technologies. Technologies including; big data, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D level of control and the oversight that they bring all play a role in helping us to create a digital twin of an entire manufacturing system. The benefit of these digital twins is the increased business performance and greater real-time understanding of an object or process in play.
Lighthouses: Shedding some light on the future
A smart factory brings with it countless benefits. Smart factories embrace planning, supply chain logistics and all aspects of product development and innovation. Those failing to adopt smart manufacturing technologies and practices are the ones who will fall behind the competition and ultimately are likely to disappear.
With this in mind – for factories to become truly smart, they first need to understand what it means to be smart. The World Economic Forum has listed nine of the world smartest factories, calling them ‘lighthouses’ that shed light on the benefits of Industry 4.0. These factories are the ones that have successfully implemented the smartest technologies, whilst keeping people and sustainability at the heart of what they do.
Enter: Le Vaudreuil
A great example of one of these lighthouses is the Le Vaudreuil, one of Schneider Electric’s motor control manufacturing plants in Normandy. This factory draws on our EcoStruxure technology and utilises a wide range of our digital tools.
This factory represents the future of manufacturing. Think about it. Inside the factory there are mini data centres storing critical site data, all USB keys pass through a decontamination terminal, and sensors monitor machinery to predict – as opposed to reacting to all factory maintenance needs. What’s more – as a result of augmented reality, the factory is benefiting from a 7 per cent increase in productivity, and energy savings of up to 30 per cent. Seems like a no brainer.
The future of smart manufacturing
If we can be sure of one thing, it’s that the future is constantly changing. Right now, we’re focused on Industry 4.0. But – very soon, Industry 5.0 will be the talk of the town. Industry 5.0 will focus on the human elements. It will no longer be all about machine and system interconnectivity, but – about how machines and humans can work together – something known as cobotics.
We must remember that automation has not taken over human roles in the factory. Whilst new technologies are vital for future success, so too is human input. Be it by offering a sense of direction, or gathering and analysing data, there is still a lot to be done. Smart factories are here to stay, but they aren’t here to replace our jobs. They are here to help businesses remain competitive and successful. And – with greater success, comes more jobs. Ultimately, smarter factories will also facilitate more jobs in the long run.
Another important development is the arrival of 5G. It will bring faster downloads and faster responses from applications as a result of lower latency. Sensors will become even more widespread and responsive, and businesses will be able to react to information in real time. With 5G technology having now arrived in the UK, we must assess how it can make smart factories even smarter. Among the possible applications are preventative maintenance and controlling machines remotely.
To avoid falling off the bandwagon and keep pace with the competition, manufacturers need to embrace these smart technologies – and become a smart factory. Perhaps the nine lighthouses can shed a bit of light on what the future has to offer.
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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.”