Manufacturing plays an essential role in the economies of both advanced and developing nations. According to a recent McKinsey Report it now accounts for approximately 16 percent of global GDP and 14 percent of employment. Changes in consumer demand and advances in technology bring both challenges and opportunities for the sector. How are business adapting to meet these challenges and which technologies are shaping the factory of the future? Factory tech today Factories have already adopted new technologies with a view to increasing productivity and reducing costs.
Swiss robotics company ABB has revealed that it's spending $150 million to build an advanced robotics factory in Shanghai -- one that will use robots to build robots. The company will rely on its YuMi single-arm robots, which it once used to conduct an orchestra, for small parts assembly. It also plans to make extensive use"of its SafeMove2 software in the facility, which it says will allow its YuMi models and other automated machines to safely work in close proximity with human employees. ABB says its goal is to make the Shanghai facility the most advanced robotics factory in the world. It will even feature a Research and Development center to accelerate the firm's work in artificial intelligence.
ABB says its goal is to make the Shanghai facility the most advanced robotics factory in the world. It will even feature a Research and Development center to accelerate the firm's work in artificial intelligence. In addition, it will widen the types and variants of robots the company can build for Chinese companies, including automakers and electronics manufacturers. China is ABB's second biggest market after the United States, and the new factory could greatly expand its presence in the market. The company expects to open the 75,000-square-foot facility by late 2020.
Airbus delivered its first plane that was completely assembled in the U.S. to JetBlue, at its new factory in Mobile, Alabama, on Monday morning. Although the A321 aircraft is being touted as the first Airbus "made in the U.S.A.," that's not quite accurate: The parts came from overseas and were then assembled in Alabama. In addition to Alabama, Airbus has factories in Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China; and Toulouse, France, where the company is headquartered. "Going from breaking ground on this facility three years ago to handing over the first Alabama-produced A321 today is an amazing accomplishment," John Leahy, chief operating officer of customers at Airbus, said in a statement. The factory in Mobile cost an estimated 600 million to build, and was inaugurated in September 2015.
Adidas (IW 1000/247), the German maker of sportswear and equipment, announced on May 24 that it will start marketing its first series of sportshoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017. More than 20 years after Adidas ceased production activities in Germany and moved them to Asia instead, chief executive Herbert Hainer, unveiled to the press the group's new prototype "Speedfactory" in Ansbach in southern Germany. The new state-of-the-art 4,600-square-meter plant is still being built, but Adidas showed off a foretaste of it to the press, promising to automate shoe production, currently done mostly by hand in Asia, and enable the shoes to be made more quickly and closer to its sales outlets. The factory will deliver a first test series of around 500 pairs of shoes to be sold from the third quarter of 2016. How Many Times Has Your Company Started (and Stopped) Implementing Lean?