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The introduction of full-scale, high-volume production of SICK smart sensors became fully operational last year, at their new 4.0 NOW Factory in Freiburg, Germany. Setting up the factory has given SICK a real-world experience of establishing a facility from scratch that is operational according to classic Industry 4.0 principles.
The Freiburg facility demonstrates how companies of any size can achieve the benefits of a factory of the future, today, says David Hannaby, SICK's UK product manager for presence inspection. "Industry 4.0 technologies accelerate production, streamline material flow, optimise capacity utilisation, and respond more flexibly to customer priorities. They enable proactive maintenance and intelligent data exchange on demand."
The factory's fully-automated technology cells support a modular production process for SICK's smart photoelectric sensor families. Instead of a conventional linear sequence, the workflow progresses flexibly for each customer order and a high level of product variety is achieved.
Material is supplied by means of automated guided carts (AGCs) and robots and employees work side by side. Production is driven by SICK smart sensors, laser scanners, and vision cameras, and the entire facility is managed transparently with the BOSCH Product Performance Management (PPM) control software, enabling analysis of production data for processes and sensors.