Tomorrow's Factories Will Need Better Processes, Not Just Better Robots

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When people think of the automotive Factory of the Future, the first word that comes to mind is automation. They think of the "lights-out" factory that General Motors Chief Executive Roger Smith fantasized about in 1982 and Elon Musk talks about building today--plants so dominated by robots and machines that they don't need lights to work. There's no doubt that the auto industry will continue to vigorously pursue automation solutions to lower the cost of producing cars. But the reality is that any major leap forward on cost and efficiency will no longer be possible through automation alone, since most of the tasks that can be automated in an automotive factory have already been tackled. When a real Factory of the Future arrives, it will not look different because we have automated the processes we use today.