How to become a factory of the future?

BIFOCAlps 2nd intermediate conference shows insights from best practice cases

The 2nd intermediate conference of BIFOCAlps project was held on 15th November in the context of productronica trade fair in Munich. Productronica is the world’s leading trade fair for electronics, development and production. In 2017 1.200 exhibitors from 42 countries showed their products and innovations in the field of smart technologies, electronics in production and digitalization to more than 44.000 visitors from 85 countries. Therefore, productronica offered the perfect environment to show the latest BIFOCAlps project results to the public.

Italian Chamber of Commerce and bwcon, in cooperation with Cluster mechatronic and automation from Augsburg (Bavaria) presented the event in context of the exhibition during the fair. The event focuses on showing how companies and SMEs cloud become a factory of the future. Therefore, the speakers explain different aspects of digital transformation and using technologies to support the transformation towards a factory of the future.

Besides the introduction of the project with its aims and strategy, presented by project lead partner Polo Technologico from Pordenone, Andrea Zangiacomi from CNR located in Milan presented the results of first BIFOCAlps activities. On the one hand the results of the survey to get the status quo regarding Factory of the Future activities in the Alpine Space as well as the maps, which show the technological strengths and know-how of the regions in the Alpine Space. Speakers form Bavaria (Daniel Gottschald, TU Munich) and Baden-Württemberg (Ralf Kölle, informed the audience about their point of view regarding the way in which companies could become a factory of the future. In addition to this, they showed which projects and initiatives are available in the region of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. To get a practice-oriented view on how companies master the way towards a factory of the future, four best practice companies (ELABO GmbH, GmbH, KUKA Robotics GmbH and Alnea Sp. z o. o.) from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria talked about this issue during a roundtable discussion moderated by Rudolf Mietzner from bwcon GmbH. Furthermore, Klaus Funk, head of Zentrum Digitalisierung Bayern gave his insights as an intermediary, which supports SMEs and other institution in their process of digitalization. In detail, they discussed the following topics:

  • What is revolutionary about Industry 4.0?
  • What are the benefits of Industry 4.0/ becoming a factory of the future?
  • What advantage do small and medium-sized companies have of the introduction of Industry 4.0/ becoming a factory of the future?
  • What is the difference between a smart factory and a traditional factory?
  • How does Industry 4.0 change our economy or business model?
  • What are the success factors to implement an Industry 4.0/FoF?

Main outputs of the roundtables discussion focus strongly on the strategic role of a “company culture”; companies need people with the “right” mindset to develop towards a factory of the future. The employees, middle management and top management have to support innovations and need to be open minded for changes. Without this new mindset, it will be difficult to put in place an efficient digitalization process.