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The automotive sector is sure to connect in the future

The factory of the future – there are those that are already doing it, those that are talking about it without knowing what it is about and those who still do not know about it…

At the Alsace Attractiveness Forum in Mulhouse at the beginning of June, Sylvain Dorschner, co-founder of Innoeco, specialised in operational management consultancy for local authorities, did not beat around the bush, “Industrialists, who do not upgrade to the factory of the future within the next few years, will disappear.”

At the Vehicle of The Future Cluster, the warning was pre-empted. In 2014, PerfoEST, the regional association for automotive industries and a member of the Cluster, launched the “factory of the future” project, intended to raise awareness among SMEs and VSEs in the automotive sector. Seven axes of consideration were identified that provide a pragmatic definition of the factory of the future between technological advancements and new methods of organisation.

The factory of the future is centred around people, that is to say, it is more ergonomic and ultimately more attractive, particularly for young people. Its processes are pioneering and enable innovative materials to be handled, thanks, for example, to additive manufacturing. It is automated, open to its suppliers. It is flexible and may be adapted to situations and new or special orders. It is economical, that is to say, it is energy-efficient, it does not take up much space and it recycles its waste or uses recycled products. And finally, and of course, it is connected, which also allows it to better satisfy the six above-mentioned axes.

A connected and sustainable factory

“More than an automated factory, says Brigitte Ducruez-Bernard, Managing Director of Innovation at the Vehicle of the Future Cluster, it is a connected and sustainable factory.” It is the SME or VSE that is able to meet the expectations of the major industrial players who, themselves, have upgraded to the 4.0 factory and who are waiting for their sub-contractors to do the same. “Take the DS 3 by Citroën that can be adapted to suit a customer’s needs… suppliers must be able to respond to all orders in real time.”

Using a method already tried and tested by PerfoEST, firstly, companies will be made aware of the initiative. Those which accept to commit will benefit from an evaluation, guidance for a pre-study, project monitoring and financial support as part of the Alsace Region “factory of the future” programme. And Brigitte Ducruez-Bernard confirms, “No matter which aspect they decide to focus on, for the companies, it’s an additional opportunity to ensure that they are not too out of kilter with their major buyers. This allows for more leeway and thus the ability to safeguard the sustainability of their activity.”

Factory of the future