Whether it is a batch size of one or an annual production volume of 2.5 million, the new Festo Scharnhausen Technology Plant shows how flexibility and speed go hand in hand. Industry 4.0 has been implemented wherever possible. Thanks to the synergy between manual production and modular assembly lines, the plant can produce 10 to the power of 40 product variations.
The Technology Plant is divided into four areas: (1) machining, (2) assembly, (3) electronics manufacturing and (4) customer solutions.
Many products simply wouldn’t exist without electronics. In the Technology Plant, 200 employees produce complex electronic assemblies and products in an area covering 6,000 square metres. 2.5 million of them are produced each year for use by the company itself. The areas responsible for further processing receive either complete assemblies in their housing or mounted circuit boards. Here too, the variations run into the hundreds.
Many of the aspects of Industry 4.0 – such as human-machine interaction – are already a reality in the Scharnhausen Technology Plant. The assembly robot grips housings, joins cartridges and frames together and passes the component on to a worker for further processing. Such teamwork poses no risk for the individual. Sensors continuously monitor all the robot’s actions. It does this thanks to a specially developed plastic “skin” fitted with highly sensitive sensors. As soon as an employee comes too close to it, the robot slows down or just stops. Thanks to effective safety mechanisms, the robot does not have to be behind bars.