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What if Lab: the factory of the future

14 January 2019

What if... we started developing the factory of the future today? The originally Dutch company Fokker Elmo is one of the world leaders in the development and production of electrical cabling in aircraft and aircraft engines. Most of the assembly work is still done manually by ‘shopfloor operators’. This is a very labour-intensive, still largely manual and at the same time data-driven process. The complete computerisation of the manufacturing process is not yet economically or technically feasible, but Fokker Elmo is already taking steps to develop the factory of the future.

This What if Lab challenge is to improve the interface for the shop floor operator. Although many of the operators are very experienced in their work, the workflow is not always equally efficient. Manual production is time-consuming, which is why Fokker Elmo strives for solutions to optimize manual work - which is unavoidable for the time being - as far as possible. Digitisation and data streams will play an important role here. The second part of the question embodied in this assignment is how this interface could be physically integrated into the workplace and workflow for the shop floor operators. So we are not only looking for ideas for the dashboard, but also for solutions in both the digital and the physical environment: a 'cockpit' that supports shop floor operators with different tools to navigate efficiently through the different activities.

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