Nothing is more constant than change, and it is particularly easy to trace in the field of production. As with most industrial companies, we, too, began with a rigid production line process. Over the years, computers became so powerful that we integrated them into our production processes. Keep reading to learn about how we arrived at today's Industry 4.0 via Lean, and how it has changed our company.
Our production story
The fourth industrial revolution has already generated a great deal of philosophical discussion in journals. We don't wish to engage further in that here, as we are sure you’re familiar with those milestones. Yet, even since the "third revolution", many things in production have changed, starting with rigid production line processes and CIM (computer-integrated manufacturing), followed by lean management, which is still used today and is now supported by computer and IT systems. At SEW‑EURODRIVE we therefore also talk about the lean smart factory. There is no doubt that methods, production and management have changed over the years. There has been a significant increase in the focus on the customer, and a reduction in the consumption of resources.
Future prospects for our production
In the context of digitalisation in production, we, too, have thought very carefully about how we can work faster and in a more customised way for our customers, whiclst also delivering them greater added-value. The result is our 2030 production philosophy – as you can see, we like to think ahead. In this process, we see the following technical developments that will also gradually shape our production plants:
- Production units are being networked globally, and are organising themselves independently.
- Augmented reality: Real and computer-generated virtual worlds merge.
- Machines will be able to make autonomous decisions.
- Smart assistants Devices will communicate independently with each other.
- Systems can be adapted quickly for different products or production needs.
- Like an invisible neural network, automation technology is linking up the entire production system.
- Virtual reality: Machines and equipment are becoming abstract objects that are handled and tested in demo units before being manufactured and installed.
Our vision of the SEW‑EURODRIVE Lean Smart Factory
The intelligent and digital showcase factory by SEW‑EURODRIVE is modularly built. It is a segmented factory (fractal factory) and consists of loosely linked, small factory units (factories within the factory) that are optimised in line with lean principles. The individual workstations are process modules, which use assistants (CP systems) to intelligently connect to each other. People, things, processes, services and data – everything is networked with everything else. The goal is to achieve greater collaborative productivity between man and machine. Intelligent products/objects equipped with embedded systems, QR codes and RFID chips maneuver themselves through the smart factory. Thanks to standardised interfaces and cutting-edge information technology, they enable digital, highly flexible and automated production on a "plug & play" basis in lot size one.