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Manufacturing just got a whole lot more flexible

Factories have been around for a long time and have evolved greatly through the industrial revolutions. The latest  - Industry 4.0 -  is definitely ushering in significant change. 3D Printing, automation robots, digitalization and connectivity are just some of the concepts being developed that alter manufacturing as we know it.

To enter into Industry 4.0, Nokia developed a Conscious Supply Network concept that looks beyond manufacturing concepts of I 4.0, by focusing on overall supply chain 4.0 .  Nokia translated these concepts into practical application that we call our Conscious Factory in a Box. The Conscious Factory fits into an end-to-end supply network that provides full transparency to each step in the supply chain process.The most obvious use cases include building for 'country of origin' requirements, new product introductions, and disaster recovery

These technical trends will impact electronics manufacturing

Let’s break the Conscious Factory into a few strategic areas: Digitalization, Analytics, Robotics, and Transparent (DART). Before we get into specifics on each area, let’s first discuss potential technology trends that will also impact manufacturing strategies.

  • Additive Manufacturing (AM): Not new, but becoming more and more footprint and cost beneficial. Redesigning supply chains logic to be closer to end customer
  • Electronic manufacturing: New materials and new ways for processing the manufacturing will start to shape product designs. We see here the use of LDS (laser direct structuring) that allows the use of 3 dimensions to make electronic circuits.
  • Embedding of components in between PCB layers will be increasingly leveraged.
  • Component interconnect/bonding strategies:
    1. The use of conductive glue can reduce the thermal impact of existing manufacturing processes.
    2. Nanofoil – functionally proven technology today however not yet cost effective in the manufacturing process compared to existing solder paste.
  • Track and trace solutions: These are critical for the conscious supply network. Each type of indoor and outdoor location tracking solutions – regardless of final technology chosen.
  • Connectivity:  New 5G wireless technologies will redesign factory layout eliminating 10’s of kilometers of cables today.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Both are really starting to hit their stride - VR for training and AR for work instructions. Coupled with edge computing and video analytic software, guaranteed quality can be ensured with minimal training.

I’ve only mentioned a few technologies here that will change the future of electronic manufacturing. If some or all become reality in the next 5 years, I foresee many smaller factories popping up to satisfy regionally specific needs and offer competitive services. However several of the main industry 4.0 trends would need to align before this can happen.

Nokia’s Conscious Factory
Factories can be as large or small as needed to meet build requirements thanks to digitalization and cloud tech.

Enter Nokia’s Conscious Factory

The key strategic (DART) areas for Industry 4.0 when coupled to the technology evolution mentioned above actually deliver Nokia’s Conscious Factory value proposition.

  • Digitalization: The first step is to digitalize all supply chain data so that it is available for everyone across systems
  • Analytics: Then collect all digitalized data to run correlation and causation analyses  to drive predictive planning solutions
  • Robotics and automation: Tightly connected, robotics must be considered in both software and hardware as well as in movement. So. HW being physical robots, SW being programs to remove repetitive steps, and movement robots like AGV, AIV and drones
  • Transparency: Big data relies on using many sources to understand causation impacts. Digitalized data coupled with permissions to see and use it open up new opportunities.

Owning info will trump headcount or factory count

Nokia’s vision of the Conscious Factory is that of an agile and smart manufacturing service – one that is  fully automated and green,  self-learning and able to both predict and prevent. With the above technology changes, we believe the concept of large manufacturing locations will also start to change. Smaller agile factories could pop up to better meet regional requirements. And, if the interconnectivity and technical ramp up challenges are solved with Cloud and AR type solutions, factory count is no longer a concern in the decision making.  Instead, owning the information and the knowledge of how to run it will be the key - making it a knowledge play rather than a headcount play.

Likewise,  Nokia’s Conscious Factory, in conjunction with the conscious supply network, help address all of the well-known LEAN principles  “7 wastes” that factories are so keen to avoid:

  1. Overproduction
  2. Waiting
  3. Transporting
  4. Inappropriate Processing
  5. Unnecessary Inventory
  6. Unnecessary / Excess Motion
  7. Defects

Nokia’s Conscious Factory

Products we sell and build are becoming smarter, self-aware and able to report back key vital information like usage and critical failures in real time with new advanced flight recorders, for example. With this knowledge, the end to end supply chain can better plan upcoming material requirements with its suppliers to meet customer expectations and meet the fast paced changes anticipated in manufacturing head on.


Read more in the press release.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #Industry40 #IoT #enterprise

Grant Marshall

About Grant Marshall

Grant is VP Supply Network & Engineering within Nokia Global Operations, where he is responsible for the operations of the supply network including  ~30 internal and external factories, 8 distribution hubs and around 200 drop off points in countries, delivering products to our customers. He is a key leader driving much of the Industry 4.0 strategies.

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