On June 13th the Global Open Innovation Network organized a Techmeeting on the Factory of the Future in San Francisco. The event kicked off with a panel discussion featuring:

  • Cedric Eloy, Head of Innovation Strategy, Co-Leader at Armstrong by Daher
  • Philippe Lesueur, Senior Manager at Nissan Motor Corporation
  • David Hite, Managing Partner at B37 Ventures
  • Mark Caine, Government Engagement Lead, Center for the 4th Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum

The discussion focused on what the factory of the future looks like and how to make it a reality. Indeed, the factory of the future is connected and automated, has digital workers using augmented reality on a daily basis and robots that are interacting smartly with humans thanks to Artificial Intelligence – especially Machine learning and Computer Vision. In 2025, this described plant will be a reality but before a lot of work has still to be done!

 

Currently in the aerospace industry, only 5% of machines are connected. Two main factors explain this result: the cost of connecting all machines and the quality of existing technologies. Corporations are engaged in a intense race for innovation. As technology hunters, the key challenge is identification: how to find the right technology – some are still not existing – to be implemented globally and procuring entire visibility on the supply chain.

 

The next generation of plants will clearly be a corporate strategic asset for competitiveness. For example, aerospace is a low margin industry. Currently, the cost of quality is about 20-30%. Thanks to the next generation of factories, this cost will disappear.

 

In that game, data are key. The right information at the the right time will allow sufficient decision making. At the moment, corporations are facing another major challenge: data dispersion throughout the entire supply chain. Data have to be collected effectively. Once done, companies will be able to take advantage of them thanks to deep learning. Optimization, tracking and anticipation regarding all aspects of the products and the processes affecting the supply chain (ex. maintenance, assembly) will then be the focus of all companies having factories.

 

Last but not least, most of the existing actors are early-stage startups. Due to the associated risk, corporations are willing to work with startups hand in hand. The preferred way of doing is collaboration: building together the final product. In the short-term, corporations are looking for solutions related to connectivity and IoT, mainly to reduce the cost of connecting the plant. In the long-term, computer vision and connected robots are the technologies corporations want to implement in their plants.

 

Step-by-step approach:

  1. Connecting plants: WiFi in all plants, introduction of robots, AI, AR, connected workers
  2. Put in place a strong and secured data collection solution communicating with ERP and workers
  3. Take advantage of data & build visibility on the entire supply chain
  4. Take action and optimize!

 

Finally, 6 startups presented their solutions and demoed their innovation to an audience of 60 attendees.

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