When Robots Till the Land

By 2050 the world will have 10 billion people. Farming and nutrition will need to change dramatically to satisfy everyone’s hunger.

Porsche Consulting

Pioneers on New Paths

Mobility is undergoing radical change, both on Earth and in outer space. How innovative entrepreneurs and scientists are seeking to shape it.

Porsche Consulting

Self-Running Factories

Every wish a command: Production lines of the future will turn out unique items—individually tailored to the wishes of their customers.

Chris Zielecki / Stocksy

The Digital Pacesetters

Aspiring innovators also have to be high achievers. And can never stop learning. The best of them have internalized these principles—and reinvent themselves on an ongoing basis.

Porsche Consulting

High Tech for a Better World

New technologies only make sense if they can improve people's lives.

Digital Magazine

Smart Factory Production Reloaded

Clas­sic con­vey­or belts? They won’t be found in the fac­to­ries of the future. Their place will be tak­en by autonomous trans­port sys­tems and assem­bly sta­tions for effi­cient, flex­i­ble, and sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion.

Checklist for Smart Entrepreneurs

The advan­tages of a smart fac­to­ry are obvi­ous. But com­pa­nies need to change course to get there. These are the require­ments they should meet in order to reach their des­ti­na­tion.

Vision and Goals

We have communicated a specific vision to all our employees and quantified the goals of a smart factory.

If digitalization is not precisely defined, it can elicit vague fears. But a clear and understandable vision, for example in the form of an image, promotes acceptance and encourages employees to participate actively in the transformation.


We have assigned responsibilities and equipped teams with the requisite freedoms and budgets.

A smart factory needs movers and shakers. That doesn’t mean it’s imperative to appoint a chief digital officer. But it is important for specific employees to be released from other duties for key projects, together with decisional powers and a separate budget for innovations.


We are familiar with key technologies and therefore also know what skills we need to develop.

An ecosystem with external partners is a crucial factor in success. But it is just as important to be as independent as possible when it comes to key technologies. Internal expertise should be developed early on and in targeted ways by means of both training and hiring.


Our smart-factory projects are connected and can be easily scaled up and transferred.

Pilot projects and minimum viable products quickly generate important insights. To extend them beyond isolated applications in order to facilitate success on a company-wide basis, contexts and connections need to be considered right from the start. An adaptable IT structure makes it easier to transfer processes to other areas.


Our employees are open to new ideas and put innovative projects into practice on a transdepartmental basis.

A company’s culture can be the greatest obstacle to transformation, but also its greatest accelerator. Hackathons and in-house fairs can instill enthusiasm in employees for change. Cross-functional teams are an antidote to silo mentalities.

How ABB Makes Future Factories Flexible

ABB manager Javier Rodriguez wants to give his clients the greatest possible freedom.Photo: Porsche Consulting

Mass pro­duc­tion and cus­tomized manufacturing—the ABB inter­na­tion­al indus­tri­al group seeks to unite these appar­ent oppo­sites with the help of automa­tion and dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. This Swiss com­pa­ny that began mak­ing gen­er­a­tors 130 years ago now makes machin­ery for high­ly auto­mat­ed and flex­i­ble fac­to­ries. Demand is high, because con­sumers want indi­vid­ual prod­ucts, faster deliv­ery, and low prices, says Javier Rodriguez, Vice Pres­i­dent of Strat­e­gy for Robot­ics at ABB. Above all, demand is chang­ing so quick­ly that man­u­fac­tur­ers of this size can no longer make secure plans. Fac­to­ries will there­fore have to adapt their prod­ucts and pro­duc­tion lev­els them­selves to mar­ket con­di­tions in the short­est pos­si­ble peri­ods of time. Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is expect­ed to help. What paths should the auto­mat­ed guid­ed vehi­cles take between assem­bly sta­tions? How fast should the robots work? Algo­rithms will be mak­ing these deci­sions in the flex­i­ble fac­to­ries of the future.

When robots make robots: ABB is investing US$150 million in the most advanced factory in the world. Video: ABB

The project with Porsche Consulting

ABB’s fully automated, flexible factory near Shanghai will start operating in late 2020. Robots will be built by robots there. The highly automated system will decide on its own, without human control, whether to speed up

or slow down production and whether to shut down or start up assembly islands. Porsche Consulting supported the manufacturer in designing the IT architecture, defining digital use cases, and identifying potential savings.

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