This article was written by Basile Bousquet, Deputy Science Attache at the Consulate Generale of France in San Francisco
I.The Smart Factory
Since 2000, Information and Communication technologies have become an increasingly important part of our lives. Just as a bank or our health they have become indispensable to the proper functioning of certain activity sectors. The manufacturing industry is no exception to this trend. Just like the steam engine, electricity and automation revolutionized industrial production over the last two centuries, and information and communication technologies have also radically changed manufacturing sectors.
The “Smart Factory”, “Innovative Factory” or “Industry 4.0” are ways of talking about the factory of the future. The ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) suggests the following definition: The industry of tomorrow will integrate into its traditional industrial processes, information and communication technologies in order to improve the effectiveness of our current mode of production. Increased process control enabled by increasingly sophisticated sensors, integration of artificial intelligence in software for managing operations or enhanced connectivity facilitating interactions between the factory and the outside world are examples of the many changes the industrial sector is preparing itself for.
If the outsourcing of industrial manufacturing seems inevitable to some, the United States government is ardently struggling for a re-industrialization, which is a source of jobs and economic dynamism.
If American policy in recent decades has focused on research and the development of high added value products by outsourcing much of their production, President Obama has made “Manufacturing” a priority and wants to reverse the momentum.
The American desire to regain control of its industrial manufacturing is demonstrated through numerous government actions. The organization “AmericaMakes” constitutes a perfect example. A satellite of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, AmericaMakes goal is to reinvigorate American industrial manufacturing and become a source of job creation. As Ralph Resnick, the director of the institute emphasizes, the role of America Makes is to reinvent current manufacturing techniquesin order to boost competition between American companies. In an interview granted at the end of 2013, M. Resnick said “[Smart Manufacturing] will make us more competitive and enable us to boost our nation’s economic growth. This is how we will maintain our leadership. When America Makes, America Works!“
II.Smart Factory and Energy
A Vector of competitiveness for businesses, Smart Manufacturing is also seen as an opportunity to reduce the environmental footprint of industry. As noted by the ACEEE, Smart Manufacturing, namely the integration of information and communication technologies in the factory, offers many opportunities to improve energy efficiency beyond the simple renovation of its buildings. They exist both at the manufacturing process level and can be optimized via Machine Learning algorithms as well as in the factory which can be redesigned after an energy audit.
Furthermore, the smart energy management of a factory is not limited to its borders but also affects the energy supplier. Indeed, the connectivity enabled by new innovative technologies structurally modifies the interaction between energy companies and manufacturers. Their interactions will necessarily evolve from a simple relationship between customer / supplier to a bilateral sales service relationship (ancillary services, demand response, smart supply, etc.)
As highlighted by the President of Gimélec (the French trade association with 200 members whose mission is to promote “energy intelligence”, that is to say, a more optimal management of the energy consumption of buildings and cities) Frédéric Abbal , “the whole industry has entered a period of profound change witnessing digital technologies integrating into the heart of industrial processes.”
It is in this context that the scientific department of the Consulate General of France in San Francisco, EDF (Electricité de France) and PRIME (Paris Region International Mission Enterprise) all decided to dedicate the fourth edition of CaFFEET to the SmartFactory.
The California France Forum on Energy Efficiency Technologies (CaFFEET) is an annual event established in 2011 by EDF and the Consulate General of France in San Francisco. Its aim is to promote technical and scientific collaborations between France and California, two leaders in achieving low-CO2 economies.
CaFFEET’14 is organized in partnership with the Paris Region International Mission Enterprise (PRIME), and l’Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA). CaFFEET’14 will take place at the Fort Mason Center, in San Francisco on November 19th and 20th 2014, and will address the following question: “What is the Value Added of Smart Factory, both for manufacturing productivity and industrial energy management?”
Every year, CaFFEET reunites an audience of approximately 200 people affiliated with large private companies like EDF or Schneider as well as Universities like UC Berkeley or Stanford. The conference is also the occasion for French and American start-ups to come and present their products via a Technology Showcase.
CaFFEET’14 will hold three sessions relating to the special features of the Smart Factory at different levels: the industry process, the industrial site and the electrical system. A detailed program of the event can be found on the following link : http://caffeet.org/agenda/.
American and French start-ups have the opportunity of presenting at CaFFEET during the Technology Showcase by sending their candidature to the following link : bit.ly/1lXNAqp