In the past 10 years, what have been examples of innovative factories that are involved in mass manufacturing?
Hello there and thank you for your question regarding innovative factories who have boosted their mass manufacturing capabilities. The short answer is that Tesla in particular has great case studies and information covering their ability to meet increased production goals and a name associated with their efforts. Otherwise many companies have listed their capabilities but had no name attached to projects implemented for increasing manufacturing. Below you'll find a summary of the examples provided.
Looking into industry trends, selective google searches, and company reports from large manufacturers was done with a focus on US brands initially. Unfortunately the research or publications involved in covering specifics or proof of increased production usually came from brands outside as well as inside the US in order to make a comprehensive list. In only one case was I able to find a company who had a name linked to their success. Even so, the creative involved was a veteran of the industry.
Increase in labor costs, strong yen, and rigid regulations have been squeezing out the Japanese manufacturing scene in recent years. But when it comes to manufacturing however Fujitsu has been keen to keep up with automation and robotics to help smooth out the assembly line. However in recent years Fujitsu partnered with Intel to create a set of IoT solutions to remain competitive. The particular innovation comes with a repair and diagnostic center to automate detection of problems with manufactured goods. Tracking for defects has also allowed employees to monitor and account for goods, as well as "reduced the number of additional shipping trucks required due to delays, leading to a 30% cut in shipping costs."
A partnership with Microsoft and Fujitsu allowed the company to map out and identify areas of their printed circuit board production that could see improvement. By harnessing the collection of data points, as well as informing findings to staff of how to utilize the data being collected there was a huge improvement in production. Non-experienced staff gained easier access and understanding to problem points in production- down the the singular unit. A decrease in the amount of people needed to contact and consult during a problem, "now one worker can analyze the root cause of the complex issues, which previously required six or more experienced people onsite to analyze". After implementing their big data strategy, hourly production was up by 30% in a matter of months.
Big jumps in demand have pushed Tesla to constantly upgrade their factory floors over the years. Their main U.S. based production facility was an old Toyota factory which was sold in 2010. The company has executed two upgrades to the manufacturing floor in 2012 and 2014. The company largely opted for automated robots to " lift and maneuver entire cars with optimum precision while taking up less room". Conveyors, robots, working docks, and improved facilities for employees have continuously increased production speed while allowing the company to keep up with increasing waves of demand as new models come to fruition. While not aimed at explaining production innovations, this interesting look at the finances and decisions behind Tesla's success can be read here.
In this particular case, a name was associated with the company's program. Tesla had hired Audi's previous Director of Production Peter Hochholdinger.
Solar power has made a slow but steady climb towards the commercial market. But by utilizing robots over labor for installation, companies can now afford to install and utilize large solar powered plants over labor intensive installations of the past. The innovations by the German based company supplying these robots aren't the only innovation however in helping support larger productions of solar panels. Startup QBotix has also unleashed a robot that has eliminated the amount of steel needed during production for solar panels by introducing a cheaper robot that can help solar panels tilt and catch the best of the sun rays available.
Lithium-ion battery production saw a huge kick when German conglomerate Siemens invested in automating its testing plant. Innovations in an additional report noted that automation had led to fewer rejects, more precision and consistency in battery coating, as well as "safe integration of quality measuring systems".
To wrap it up, Fujitsu, Omron, Telsa, QBotix, and Siemens have increased capacity and production by investing smartly in automated processes as well as thinking creatively about the essentials of their products themselves.
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