‘Factory of the future’ opens in Singapore

Slideshow: a walk-through of the Digital Capabilities Center in Singapore

Earlier this week, 90 guests, including media, industry, and tech experts, toured the new Digital Capabilities Center (DCC) in Singapore, for a glimpse of the future. The future of manufacturing, that is.

This center, one of five digital model factories, will serve as a showcase and teaching ground for the emerging technologies of “Industry 4.0.”—advancements in data and analytics, robotics and automation, and production methods such 3-D and 4-D printing. Each of these advancements plays a critical role in reshaping manufacturing and operations, and helping companies achieve significant—even sensational—improvements in productivity. For example, Oliver Tonby, managing partner of Southeast Asia, points out that “automation and real-time dispatching in a semiconductor business can ramp up production by up to 50 percent.”

In our recent survey, 90 percent of manufacturers agree that Industry 4.0 technologies will change their operations—yet less than half think they are ready, with the strategy, people, data, or processes in place. To help companies prepare for this sea change, we designed five learning environments to make “the digital as tangible as possible,” explains Jörg Bromberger, the senior practice manager who has led the initiative over the past two years. In addition to Singapore, the new centers will be located in Aachen (Germany), Beijing, Chicago, and Venice (Italy).

Like our existing network of capability centers, each digital center is completely different with a production line tailored to the local client base; for example, “smart” radio-frequency-identification (RFID) wristbands in Germany and iced-tea processing in China. “But they will all share the same 25 digital learning modules—so the person in Venice will have the same learning experience as the participant in Chicago,” says Jörg. “We’ve taken a full production line in each setting and layered it with digital technology - so users can experience the possibilities at every touchpoint.”

The Digital Capabilities Center in Aachen, Germany, opened in March 2017.

Each center is connected with a leading industry consortium, government organization, or research institution that serves as the scientific backbone. The centers will be dynamic, updating and adding new technologies on a regular basis—such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and cobots and robots later this year.

The Singapore DCC recreates the environment of a manufacturer of industrial gearboxes. The fictional $2 billion company has 8,000 employees spread across five key geographies. During workshops, participants watch as plant workers use digital technologies to manage scenarios, such as a pending equipment failure or a spike in demand that threatens to overwhelm the supply chain.

As the set of actions unfold, “participants can see the digital thread of communications flashing across the screens, from war-room planning of raw materials all the way to customer service, as the company responds to these situations,” says Alpesh Patel, who leads the Singapore center. The scenarios are drawn from the direct experience of 40-plus aerospace and manufacturing companies who participate in the public-private collaboration behind the center.

In Aachen, the manufacturing line of RFID wristbands is set up to show a “before” and “after” state. Participants start the program observing a fully operating lean-production facility. “Throughout the workshop, they can ‘turbo charge’ the line with a set of digital tools that penetrate—and provide visibility and analytics—into every step of the process,” explains Jörg. “For example, by applying digital condition monitoring, which provides information every few seconds—rather than a once a day—they can reduce equipment downtime by as much as 75 percent.”

The workshops are open to large and small companies and are tailored to the participants’ experience, ranging from an introduction to Industry 4.0 capabilities to running an actual technology pilot to skills building for a large-scale implementation.

With our new DCCs coming online, the future is here now - how ready is your company?

Watch Singapore DCC video on YouTube

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