Following the initial tour of the Learning Factory and the manufacturing halls of Heller’s Nürtingen production site, a keynote illustrated the current state-of-the-art and the vision on digitalisation in the company.
The factory of the future, built by clay and paper
Inspired by the tour and keynote, the second half of the day led to visions of the factory of the future. The participants joined a workshop under the same title, which was held in the historical production hall and moderated by architects of plus+ bauplanung GmbH. The architects of the industrial committee member contributed their practical and methodical experiences from the participative planning of building projects. This helped motivate the interdisciplinary project team to develop innovative factory design concepts. Three-dimensional models made of clay, paper, wood and foil helped make the innovative concepts tangible. Afterwards, the four factories of the future were presented and discussed in plenary.
The learning factory of the future: collaboration and learning take centre stage
The focus did not only lie on collaboration among employees. Another important topic was the increasing interdisciplinarity and cooperation with external partners and research institutes.
Collaboration with start-ups and SMEs was taken up by several groups. In one of the factories of the future, a central co-working space and an experimentation room were considered. Other factories planned reception rooms, the possibility of facility tours and even overnight accommodation for customers. Digitalisation should also further drive collaboration between locations – a central theme in the EuProGigant project.
A final important point was the training of employees. In one group, the question was where people will mainly learn in the future and what the relationship between companies and training institutes will look like. An interesting suggestion of one of the working groups was that universities and technical colleges could establish representative offices or training rooms in companies. Doing this, training could be even more practice-oriented and certain skill gaps could be filled.
Will the factory of the future become a learning factory?
Adapted to the business models of the future
In the end, the business models of the future will determine what the factory of the future will look like.
Will the factory of the future be a rental factory, where partners and start-ups can rent the infrastructure? The production area would need a larger selection of machines and trained employees who can introduce guests and customers to machine work and maintain the machines accordingly.
Will the factory of the future be a “circular factory” where the products manufactured by the company are brought back for repair or even recycling? Thus, the factory of the future would need more diverse rooms and spaces to meet the changing production demands and diversification of the company.
Concluding discussion initiates the next steps
On the second day of the event, the companies Heller and IGH Infotec presented the “Application of digital products today and tomorrow” in the context of the factory of the future. With their initial presentation, they initiated a further exchange between the attendees.
The meeting concluded with content-related, project-based discussions to gain a common understanding of the topic of self-description in the context of the project. Vocabularies and existing standards of machinery and equipment were discussed and considerations were made on how these could be combined.