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Dark Factories for a Brighter Future!


05/19/2019


Dark Factories for a Brighter Future!

What Are Dark Factories?

In case you never heard the term “dark factories” before, then you need to know that this is attracting a lot of people. The term dark factory is based on the event that you have programmed robots or machines working for you on a 24/7 uninterrupted production. So, there won’t be any delays, no labor disputes, not heating or lighting bills, noting. There will only be programming robots working for you.

The Model Of The Future

Matthew Carr, the Emerging Markets Strategist at The Oxford Club, recently illustrated how dark factories are a reality that is approaching soon. The reason why he made this statement was based on what is happening in a company in China — the Changying Precision Technology Company. According to Matthew, this company may well be the first manufacturing company we are seeing that using the dark factory model.

This mobile phone company used to employ 650 workers and now it only needs 60. What the company did was that it replaced all these workers by robots. Overall, they put 60 robot arms to work and they eliminated 90% of the human workforce. While this is clearly a step into the dark factory definition, we have to say that no one was expecting it to work so well.

Overall, the results were incredible. Not only productivity increased by 250% as the product defects decreased by 80%.

According to Matthew, “The robots run 10 production lines, going 24/7. The only human workers left are there simply to ensure everything runs smoothly. Changying Precision Technology believes the number of humans can be reduced to as few as 20.”

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Amazon’s Is On Its Way

While you may be thinking that this is only happening in China, the truth is that Amazon is trying to do the same (or similar). The biggest online retailer decided to increase its robot workforce by 50%. They already represent 45,000 that are spread over 20 different order fulfillment centers. In case you don’t find these numbers impressive enough, 45,000 are more robots than the Netherlands army.

Amazon continues to have a lot of employees — 200,000 full-time and seasonal.

Are Dark Factories A Drastic Change?

While numbers don’t lie and we just showed you two examples of companies that are evolving to dark factories, the reality is that there are people who don’t think this is such a big change. One of these people is Yan Vermeulen, Partner at Odgers Berndtson Singapore and Head of the Southeast Asia Industrial Practice. According to Yan,“In principle, I don’t think dark factories are a drastic change. Factories have been getting more automated for many years. The only difference is turning the lights off, but this is more an economic decision than anything else. However, the shift to dark factories will take out manufacturing employment in commodity segments that don’t need either high manpower involvement or high technology involvement. So, there will always be industries that either require a lot of people to assemble or manufacture, or need high-end engineers on site for production.”

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