German manufacturers take aim at smart factories, mass customization

TOMOHISA TAKEI, Nikkei staff writer:  It has been five years since Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, was first unveiled at the Hannover Messe industrial technology trade fair in Germany.

     Industry 4.0 was more of a conceptual model at that time. This year, however, the trade show witnessed an emerging trend toward "smart factories" that can provide mass customization.

     On April 25, SEW-Eurodrive's booth at Hannover Messe drew crowds of visitors. The German industrial motor maker demonstrated its automated vehicles for next-generation assembly plants, what it calls the "Lean Smart Factory."

     In SEW-Eurodrive's demonstration, about 10 such "smart vehicles" moved about as five workers assembled products. One vehicle approached its target worker, displayed a procedure on its screen and instructed the worker to do the assembly work. After the worker completed the task, the vehicle received the product and moved on to another worker in charge of the next process.

     These smart vehicles were connected over a network and programmed at the company factory. But it looked as if the products themselves were driving the vehicles and moved to where the tasks needed to be done. SEW-Eurodrive has already introduced the system at its factory in the southwestern German town of Graben-Neudorf, intending to make individually tailored products in the future.  Cont'd...

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.


Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

Dynatect Automated Machine Safety Roll-Up Doors

Dynatect Automated Machine Safety Roll-Up Doors

Need to increase safety? Are you using light curtains? Is space a concern? Dynatect's Gortite® VF Automated Machine Safety Door combines safety technology, speed, and a physical barrier to isolate hazardous operations. Use of a physical barrier with safety sensors can save up to 30 square feet of manufacturing space. Using the ANSI minimum safety distance formula, the Gortite® VF Door limits the depth penetration factor and average approach speed, allowing closer location of the safeguarding device. Unlike light curtains, which can't contain process hazards, an automated machine safety door can isolate common workplace debris. This physical barrier is designed to contain process driven hazards such as weld sparks, UV flash, and light debris. Thus, the operator can maintain closer proximity to the work area improving ergonomics and productivity.