What if factory workers could work flex hours, coming and going as they please, creating their own schedules and working independently to achieve a specific goal? That is exactly what we can expect in the factory of the future by the year 2030.
Corporations often offer flex hours to their employees, allowing people to work around their biological clocks—whether they’re morning people or night owls, or have long commutes or daycare to take into account, for example. Factories, on the other hand, have always been rigid—you punch in and punch out at specified times and are assigned a specific, day, evening or nighttime shift. But what if factory workers could also work flex hours, coming and going as they please, creating their own schedules and working independently to achieve a specific goal?
“Variations will be as individualized as the workers themselves and could include things such as standing aids, footrests, and even a completely different workstation layout.”
That is exactly what we can expect in the factory of the future by the year 2030, according to Johannes Scholz and Johannes Labuttis, engineers who work at Siemens Corporate Technology in Munich.
“Production lines and … individual assembly stations will be transformable, and it will be easy to retool them in line with the customer order in question,” Labuttis explained, in a Siemens report.
Everything will be digitally networked and will be able to adjust automatically to the oncoming worker, including tool placement for things like height and whether someone is left or right handed. The auto setup will also accommodate physical challenges.
“The variations will be as individualized as the workers themselves and could include things such as standing aids, footrests, and even a completely different workstation layout,” says Labuttis.
Robots will also be part of the picture, helping with things such as heavy lifting.
These modernizations will also help with the aging workforce. By 2050, Siemens says, the number of people over 65 worldwide, which is currently at 500 million, will triple, and more people will have to work longer.
In addition, in the future, built-in sensors that give automatic alerts when the product needs fixing also will become the norm. And 3D printing will become so commonplace that some manufacturing will move from a factory-like facility to a home-like setting, according to The Economist.
Read more about personalized factory workstations.