We are entering a new age: a digital age, an interconnected age, and a smart age. To serve the needs of this exciting time, the global smart manufacturing industry, the cast of companies using state-of-the-art tech to engineer and develop products, is expected to significantly increase over the next couple of years.
In fact, according to Fortune Business Insights, it will be a $506 billion industry by 2027, a year closer than many might think. One company, tech titan Intel, is investing in this concept of “smart manufacturing” now. They’re hoping that it will pay off in the future with a seemingly pristine smart factory, combining robotic precision and human ingenuity to perfect the process.
The plant was built in Verona, Italy, an ancient city originally built by the Romans and famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And, seemingly as a countercurrent, or contrast, to the rich history of the northern Italian city, Intel and their partners EXOR International, TIM, and JMA Wireless have built a window to the future. It’s part of what experts are calling “Industry 4.0,” the fourth wave of the industrial revolution that began several centuries ago.
This new wave uses extremely sophisticated machines to make the assembly line more efficient and streamlined. Christine Boles, Intel’s General Manager of Industrial Solutions, said that they are “seeing Industry 4.0 adoption accelerating and hearing from customers that they are interested in understanding how 5G and AI can speed up their digital transformation.”
Boles added that the “EXOR’s new smart factory is a great example of how deploying solutions based upon standards with open architectures can help lower maintenance costs, increase productivity and take advantage of new business opportunities.” This factory aims to show the world the wonders of smart manufacturing, and will even lease a portion of the floor to prospective companies interested in seeing how robotics and 5G integration can improve their business operations.
Such improvements include “autonomous human resources scheduling, reacting to changes in orders and employee availability in real-time,” an indicator that organizes workflow and checks the status of the whole line from start to finish on a product “regardless of order size”. It also has what Intel calls an “on-premise 5G lab,” allowing manufacturers to “build private networks and integrate with existing solutions to deliver business value.”
One of the partners, EXOR, is also sporting a visual quality inspection machine that will “automatically flag defects, dust and scratches in near real-time. The solution will also classify those defects before sending the information to factory workers for assessment.”
Looking to the future
According to Claudio Ambra, Chief Technical Officer of EXOR International, this factory is only the start of a series of 4.0 adaptations across numerous industries, with the intention to “take advantage of the latest 5G and AI technologies from TIM and Intel. Our smart factory in Verona will demonstrate that digitalization can happen at any scale,” he said, citing its special significance for small and mid-sized companies.
According to Intel, this Italian factory will “reduce maintenance and energy costs and improve workforce productivity.” Only time will tell what sort of exciting possibilities Industry 4.0 and 5G connectivity may bring to the world of manufacturing.
Photo credit: The images are owned by EXOR and have been provided for press usage.
Source: Fortune Business Insights