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 Digitization and Automation
 It’s the year 2025. Many of the innovations that first appeared in the years between 2010 and 2020 have already become the standard in in- dustrial production processes. Conveyor belts
and the classic, automated production lines, for one, have been retired. Autonomous transport sys- tems operate flexibly and autonomously, and move the products being manufactured—including cars, machinery, and household appliances—through the factory halls, directing them toward assembly stations that are not in use at that particular mo- ment. So, too, are the required materials delivered autonomously.
Engineers and plant technicians can obtain a virtual image of every single product at any time they like: the data image—or digital twin—pro- vides the basis for development and production. This detailed data model not only accompanies the product as it moves along the production line; it is retained over the product’s entire life cycle. Chang- es requested on short notice can be implemented effortlessly, and software updates can still be de- ployed following delivery to the customer. With the advent of artificial intelligence, planners need only decide which options to implement, leaving them to primarily concentrate on communication and creative work. New technologies are therefore en- suring the ideal ratio of human to machine.
This all makes the factory highly efficient, adaptable, and perfectly attuned to customer re- quirements. Or, in short: a smart factory.
1. Efficient
Individual products manufactured as fast and economically as they are in high-volume production—this key element of Industry 4.0 is implement- ed consistently throughout the smart factory. The technicians work to- gether in cross-functional teams employing agile methods. Using state- of-the-art technology such as 3-D printing and digital modeling, they are able to find solutions quickly and in close proximity to production.
2. Adaptable
There’s no need to set up a new production plant when a new product series or version is ready for production. The mobile platforms are as versatile as the factory itself. This is also true of the production volumes. It makes no differ- ence whether the production output needs to be halved or doubled: the smart factory “dances” to the same drum as demand does.
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