Often defined as the founding element of the “Digital Industrial Revolution”, the intelligent factory employs digital technologies including Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Robotics in order to boost productivity, quality and flexibility. The features of intelligent factories include collaborative robots and workers using increased reality3 and machines that can signal the need for maintenance intervention. By the end of 2022, manufacturers expect 21% of their plants to be transformed into clever factories. Sectors such as aerospace and defense, industrial manufacturing and automotive – where workers are already interacting with intelligent machines – will drive this transition.
Factory digitization is a necessity
Thanks to improvements in productivity, efficiency and flexibility, intelligent factories will benefit from significant operating costs. For example, the report estimates that the average automotive manufacturer could increase operating margin by up to 36% 4 due to logistics efficiency and material costs, improved equipment functionality, and improved production quality. As a result, most industrial realities have already undertaken to digitize their plants to remain competitive; Only 16% of respondents say they have not taken any action in this regard, or have no plans to implement them.
The first to adopt them – including factories in the United States and Western Europe – are pushing the group; Half of respondents in the United States, France, Germany and the UK have already deployed intelligent factories, against 28% of respondents in India and 25% in China. There is also a gap between sectors: 67% of industrial production and 62% of aerospace and defense organizations have embarked on the path to smart factories. However, just over a third (37%) of the pharmaceutical companies and companies operating in the world of life science exploits digital technology, thus opening their business to the disruptive change in the industry.
Faced with somewhat modest economic gains, smart factories could contribute $ 1.5 trillion to the global economy More and more capital is invested in smart factories; More than half (56%) of respondents have invested more than $ 100 million in smart factories over the past five years and 20% said they had invested more than $ 500 million. However, according to the analysis of the Digital Transformation Institute of Capgemini, only a small number of companies (6%) are in an advanced stage of digitizing production. In addition, only 14% of respondents said they were satisfied with the degree of success achieved.
As the efforts of the manufacturers of smart factories increase and yields improve, the report estimates that additional digitization investments will be allocated. The culmination of the Digital Transformation Institute forecasts that half of the factories could become a smart factory by the end of 2022, with a productivity increase of up to $ 1.5 trillion over the global economy.
“This study shows that at this moment we are in the midst of the digital industrial revolution and that the impact on overall efficiency will be significant,” said Antonio Ziliani, Vice President of Capgemini Italia’s Head of Digital Manufacturing. “The next few years will be crucial for manufacturers to increase their digital capabilities and significantly improve their performance in this area with important economic benefits.”
Intelligent factories will change demand for global skills
Switching to smart factories will transform the global labor market, and while earlier automation changes have reduced the poorly-qualified jobs, organizations have recognized the importance of skills and are now acting accordingly.
The respondents see automation as a means to eliminate inefficiencies and overheads rather than jobs, so more than half (54%) of respondents are providing their employees with digital skills training, while 44% are investing In the acquisition of digital talents to bridge the gap in skills. For highly qualified workers in areas such as automation, analytics and cyber security, employment opportunities are even greater.
Grégoire Ferré, Chief Digital Officer of Faurecia and Capgemini’s customer, said: “In Faurecia, we are witnessing the great success of our employees who work with the support of smart technologies. For example, we use intelligent robots in ergonomic activities, ultimately creating a safer environment for workers and giving them the time to focus on more important tasks. ”
With regard to Faurecia’s projects related to smart factories, he added: “Launch Greenfield’s smart factories and digitize over 300 Faurecia plants is a key element of our digital transformation program. We are also witnessing successful transformations such as “renewing” old processes to achieve greater efficiency, such as eliminating paper usage in our shop, or using technology as part of our preventive maintenance plan to save time at Our employees. “