Industry 4.0 live – the future of connected production – is already being practiced at Infineon. Infineon Technologies Austria has opened a new building complex in Villach for production, research and development. The expansion will be driven forward through 2017 by investments and research expenditure totaling Euro 290 million. The focus is on designing the development and production environment according to the principles of Industry 4.0.
“Digitization, in other words, connecting the real world with the digital world, is a central topic for Infineon,” said Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG. “We have the right products and solutions for it, but also see huge potential in using it to gain a head start in the market. With Industry 4.0 we will speed up innovation, and improve productivity and quality. We want to use the solutions developed in Villach in the entire Infineon network and in cooperation with customers and suppliers.”
Implementing Industry 4.0 improves the competitiveness of companies thanks to increasing networking and hence greater efficiency. The connected factory of the future is, among other things, characterized by a high degree of automation, deep horizontal and vertical integration of production and logistics processes, as well as the use of extended analysis methods for large volumes of data. Infineon is helping to shape the global trend toward connected and knowledge-intensive production on two levels: On the one hand, by developing and producing microchips and sensors that are used in smart factories. On the other, as a company that consistently uses Industry 4.0 technologies itself on a large scale.
To fully exploit the potential of connected production, experts are also needed alongside the required technologies, who can use these technologies and integrate them into existing processes. To this end, Infineon will offer qualification measures for employees and create new job profiles: For example, so-called work area controllers will in future monitor production from mobile control consoles and manage the systems. Visual assistance systems such as tablets or data glasses will support information processing. By 2017, Infineon in Villach expects to have around 200 new R&D jobs. 130 of these are already filled today.
“Industry 4.0 offers us an enormous opportunity to keep and strengthen industrial production in Europe,” said Dr. Sabine Herlitschka, CEO of Infineon Technologies Austria AG. “We're implementing that now in Villach by connecting development and production with ‘Intelligence 4.0’ and hence being able to offer innovative products for our global customers faster and more efficiently. At the same time we are creating specific examples for the workplaces of the future. We are thus demonstrating, as a location for innovation within the Infineon network, what knowledge-intensive production can look like in everyday production with 13 billion chips produced each year.”
The semiconductor manufacturer also wants to continuously get pioneering innovations off the ground in the future: Infineon is the first and only company in the world to manufacture semiconductors on 300-millimeter thin wafers. Although they are barely thicker than a sheet of paper, the chips have electrically active structures on the front and back. According to the business magazine “trend” Infineon was the most research-intensive company in 2014 among 500 surveyed companies in Austria. The first elements of a smart factory have already been in use in Villach for several years: All products in production can be permanently and uniquely located. In addition, each finished product supplies measurement data that is incorporated into the ongoing production process and optimizes the conditions for subsequent products.
In the new building complex, Infineon is increasingly combining sensor technology with communication and data processing systems. As a result, it will be possible in the future to make decisions in production more and more autonomously. An example of this is status-oriented maintenance, which is initiated by the machine itself. In addition, smart control of energy and resource consumption in the newly erected buildings will reduce costs by up to 15 percent compared with the previous facilities. Infineon is thus underlining its claim to make life easier, safer and greener.