Just before I get serious about Nokia making the fourth industrial revolution, or leading it, I must inform you that on our Croatian blog we published 10,000th post. Celebration was humble like the number of the posts 🙂.
Rajeev Suri often boldly speaks about the 5G networking era as the Industry 4.0. From the history of human kind we know that few periods of industrialization happened and we often refer to them as the industrial revolutions. After medieval times, when people started using their brains again and after all the plagues and wars that decimated the population, humans needed a way to speed up the production, since not so many work force was available. First industrial revolution speeded up the textile industry and in second Ford gave the automobile industry a conveyor-belt assembly lines what started the mass production. The third industrial revolution started with mass digitalisation of the technology processes and now with smartphones and new networks we are rushing toward the fourth industrial revolution. This one is all about wireless connection and about fast networks with low latency that will help us organize better manufacturing plants.
Forbes did a great article about the so-called Industry 4.0 and it used Nokia’s Oulu plant for networking gear as an example. This factory could be the first Industry 4.0 manufacturing plant as its manager Erja Sankari calls it, because its fundaments are complete automatization, calculated productivity and data analysis. This plant is manufacturing various networking equipment that is needed for smart IoT control units, advanced analysis systems and machine automatization controllers that are going to be operated over the 5G network. Most of this equipment is already being used in this manufacturing site.
To speed things up, Nokia needed to simplify the design of the radio components so they are now using one screw to keep everything tight, the same for all the products. This enabled them to redesign the robots assembling the base cells and other products, and gave them help in a form of collaborative robots. Currently both robots are working on a predefined program, but Nokia claims that the era of self-managing robots is just around the corner.
Not just the robots and products have been redesigned, Nokia also changed the layout of the manufacturing stations and elements to make the plant more efficient. Today this factory needs only three well-educated workers for normal functioning, and Nokia plans to make all the factories like that. Of course, behind all of this is a whole team of engineers, technicians and other smart people that came up with the idea, designed all of this, made programming and are maintaining the systems. To sustain this kind of high tech production, Finland relies on its well based high education system that produces highly educated and quality workers. Nokia definitely isn’t the first one to introduce this kind of manufacturing process but definitely is a leader in 5G networking area and has been known for detailing the production and complete logistics needed. Nokia shows that it knows how to implement the new ways of production and create different kind of jobs that will make workers more creative.
Nokia’s plan is to transform all of its 12 manufacturing plants in the close future, but time is needed for the 5G standards to be created so the implementation of the new technology would be much easier. There is a big chance that some of the production transferred to China could be brought back to Finland with the automatization. Even if this means that not so many people will work in the manufacturing plants of the future, this will make the space for highly educated workers to be employed, and every country needs that kind of workforce to increase its GDP.