By Espie Angelica A. de Leon
The Cavite plant of UPS manufacturer Schneider Electric is now a smart factory, joining the company’s roster of smart factories in France, China, India, and Indonesia after its official launch on March 15.
The facility is Schneider Electric’s first smart factory in the Philippines, now running at full speed with top-flight innovations powering every layer of its production system. The facility is located within the PEZA special economic zone in Rosario, Cavite.
Operational since the late 1990s, its transformation into a smart factory began in 2017 and was built around Schneider Electric’s own IT cloud-based and on-premise software EcoStruxure for Industry.
EcoStruxure’s open IoT enabled architecture makes the entire electrical distribution network and electrical parameters visible to users, allowing them to monitor and control their energy consumption in real time and remotely. EcoStruxure also has algorithms which provide recommendations for attaining higher energy efficiency.
“We define smart factory as [something] which is fully equipped with the latest in technology in terms of automation, providing employees with higher value jobs, driving predictive maintenance, improving quality,” said Michael Crozat, Schneider Electric’s global supply chain vice president in the Philippines.
The first Schneider Electric smart factory in the Philippines is equipped with a system that monitors and controls the production process in real time. This ensures that issues in connection to quality, safety, materials, machine, and others are being addressed efficiently on a daily basis.
It has a technology which makes it possible for technicians to virtually open electrical cabinets and view on a screen all the softwares and applications installed in each machine.
The smart factory also has a 3D printer for building prototypes, an Automated Guided Vehicle for automation work, and cobots doing their part in the screwing process.
“We still have a lot of manual operations,” claimed Crozat. “When we say smart factory, it doesn’t mean necessarily that it’s fully automated. It means that we are working smart.”
Other features include a recreation room and areas equipped with computers and Virtual Reality equipment for immersive learning as well as for the Factory Acceptance Test.
According to Crozat, transitioning to a smart factory mostly consisted of adding sensors and did not involve changing equipment.
As a smart factory anchored on EcoStruxure, the Cavite site has elevated its capacity for mass personalization of goods, quality production, and operational excellence to ensure business continuity.
It achieves these while keeping energy costs down. From 2017 to 2018 when Schneider Electric accelerated its efforts to transform the plant into its first smart factory in the Philippines, the company was able to generate 14% energy savings despite a 19% jump in production volume.
“Our transition to a smart factory is another step for Schneider Electric towards transforming cities, reshaping industries, and enriching lives. We hope that our adoption will serve as a testament of what embracing digital transformation really means,” said country president Alexandre Vermot.