Industry 4.0: the era of data to restore firms' competitiveness

Digitalisation has become a major lever with which to become more productive and competitive, whether in the design of a product or of a production line. It calls for new working methods and new skills. In view of this challenge, the transport and logistics industry is taking steps towards modernity by adopting big data, Internet of Things, robotics, 3D printing and virtualisation techniques.

SOLUTRANS, the international trade show for road and urban transport solutions (21 – 25 November 2017 at Lyon Eurexpo) offers a valuable opportunity to gain better understanding, insight and knowledge of the issues relating to digital transformation, which is so imperative today in order to maintain and/or restore the competitive advantage of firms.


Across all sectors, industry is witnessing profound change

Today’s era clearly belongs to new technology. It is deployed at the heart of firms’ production tools and can be found in all of the links of the supply chain. Industry 4.0 - so-called in reference to connectivity and digitalisation -, and the factory of the future, remote-controlled by robotics, predictive artificial intelligence and virtual reality, thus lie at the heart of the debate.

Behind the concept, technology is clearly in evidence and promises to revolutionise industrial processes and the international supply chain. This is what has spurred all the major industries (aeronautics, automotive, nuclear, electronics) into adopting new technology around three main development priorities: improving profitability, reducing the carbon footprint and continuously improving customer service. This phenomenon is a worldwide one, fuelled by governmental bodies aiming to improve companies’ competitiveness. Naturally, the heavy-duty vehicles and bodywork sectors fall within this scope.

In France, the government launched 34 plans in 2014 to revitalise the industrial sector, including the “factory of the future” plan, whose aim was to get French SMEs on board this industry 4.0. This would be achieved by helping firms shift to digital and to digitalise their logistics chain, or build web-based and mobile technology, connected devices or predictive analysis into their everyday business. The remit also covers introducing robotic production methods and handling and automating management, control and maintenance remotely from facilities. Alongside the economic gains made possible by industry 4.0, other potential upsides include environmental considerations and improving how goods are tracked, on the backdrop of increasing consumer distrust.

In this respect, the warehouses and transportation of the future aim to be “green” and seek to improve their energy efficiency, from production through to delivery. In practice, this translates into using production robots which switch off automatically when not in use, employing alternative transportation methods, electric or gas-powered vehicles, 3D printing or the optimisation of logistics circuits or delivery rounds. 

3D printing, big data, VR, robotics... everything you need to know about industry 4.0 and its key figures is in our file!

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A few examples

Bosch tracks its trucks

After working on RFID solutions to improve the flows of goods within its factories, the group Bosch Home Appliances is installing Zenoway sensors developed by the start-up Zenotrack, on the vehicles travelling around its German warehouse. The solution locates telehandlers and goods, whether inside or outside the facility, using cameras, GPS, laser scanners, radio communications and movement and pressure sensors installed on the trucks. Bosch thereby optimises trips around the warehouse, prevents collisions, optimises vehicle use and controls the storage of goods.

Daimler gets close up to start-ups

Daimler has founded a platform to promote start-ups working in the areas of mobility and industry 4.0, christened “Startup Autobahn”. Porche, ZF, Hewlett Packard, BASF and the Japanese electronics firm Murata are all partners of the carmaker. The platform selected about 12 start-ups from the 300 which had initially applied to be part of the programme. They are all specialists in the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, location services, cybersecurity and predictive analysis. From May 2017 onwards, their technologies were being gradually fitted into Mercedes-Benz vehicles and partner products.

Renault Trucks prints in metal

Renault Trucks is working on metal 3D printing, an additive manufacturing process to increase engine performance. A four-cylinder Euro-6 step C DTI 5 prototype was designed using only 3D printing. The process helped to reduce the engine’s weight by 25% or 120 kg, and 600 hours of bench tests validated the reliability of the parts. Printing by adding metallic matter contributes technological disruption by making possible the optimisation of the sizing of parts and reducing the number of assembly tasks and components. The number of items making up the DTI 5 engine was reduced by 25%, equating to 200 fewer parts. This in turn led to lower fuel and carbon dioxide consumption and controlled vehicle operating costs.

The factory of the future showcased at SOLUTRANS 2017

  • A special feature on the FFC stand throughout the show will offer visitors insight into the challenges of digitalisation through a demonstration of virtual reality and 3D printing.
  • Talks given by the company Immersion, the exhibition’s partner, will be held every day from 10am to 10.45am in the Norbert Detoux lecture theatre.
  • The Training Forum will be placed under the banner of new technology. Designed and run by FFC and a number of other partners (AFTRAL, Villeneuve la Garenne Training College, GARAC, Compagnons du Devoir, the Lyon Education Authority, French Road Safety and the firm Immersion), it will give attendees an overview of existing jobs and training opportunities in particular relating to new technology (robotics, digital, virtual reality, etc.). And it will offer a perspective of all of the sector’s innovations.