Factories of the future may be black boxes, because they need no lighting.

This post is inspired by an article titles “Future Factory: How Technology Is Transforming Manufacturing“, published April 8, 2018 on https://www.cbinsights.com


Until recently, when factories were called black boxes, it meant that flows, processes or operations were so difficult to understand that they appeared like “black boxes” in which the magic simply happened. Or not.

With more automation, the black box may become reality as explained in the article with the Fanuc factory or the Changying Precision Technology Company. Those highly automated factories operate autonomously and require no human presence, therefore don’t require lighting. Machines function in the dark, hence the black box.

While in some European countries the stance is to put people in the center of the factory of the future, with no other rationale than preventing rejection of the very likely automation wave for fear of losing jobs, some factories like Fanuc’s operate “lights-out” since 2001.

On the one hand we have those promoting the factory of the future as a place where people enjoy their high-tech empowered position in new jobs, secure their incomes and have a social life.

On the other hand factories of the future without most limitations, constraints and drawbacks that come with humans :

  • human limitations in execution (know-how, variability, mood, motivation, health…)
  • work and safety regulations
  • workplace, workspace
  • restrooms, restaurant
  • lighting, heating, air conditioning
  • parking space
  • supporting bureaucracy

Yet these two options are not totally mutually exclusive as the article suggests. In the case of Changying Precision Technology Company, there are still people working “in” the “lights-out factory”, but only one-tenth of the former 650 workers.

You may like to read Chinese factory replaces 90% of humans with robots, production soars

Between the human-centric approach and the capital-efficient approach of the factory of the future, my guess is that the investors will ultimately have the say.

What is your analysis?

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

About the author, Chris HOHMANN


View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

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