Nokia still remains the 2nd largest manufacturer of mobile equipment, even though the company dropped its cell phone business on Microsoft in 2014. After attaining Alcatel-Lucent last year, Nokia has around 100,000 employees.
For those who don’t know, Microsoft closed the cell phone 2 years after they attained it. It freed a lot of expert technical reserves. However, Nokia still hires around 2,000 individuals in a factory in a little town nearby the Arctic Circle where it operates. The factory manufactures mobile base stations for Telco service providers.
It makes sense that most of Nokia’s research and development efforts are concentrated on the new technology because the company knows that 5G is right around the corner. However, the real innovation is in the factory itself.
Diving into the Industry of the Future
Nokia’s strategic priority is focusing its innovation on its products and factories. Erja Sankari, Head of Oulu Factory, explains that Nokia is building the factory of the future. They are building Industry 4.0 that includes increased productivity, automation, and data use.
The story of Industry 4.0 starts with automation. In fact, the base station factory of Nokia displayed a lot of industrial robots. These robots are used for assembling products and also putting the products in the packages.
Factory of the Future
As of now, it needs at least 3 individuals to operate the factory of Nokia. However, the company wants to attain a “lights out” factory”. This means that the factory will no longer require human operators. Automation must be taken to the next level to achieve this kind of goal. This next level should include robots that manage, feed, and reconfigure other robots.
However, it is very clear that all manufacturers are moving the same direction as Nokia. The benefit that the manufacturers can get is clearly increased quality and lower cost.
One of the technologies that will enable this goal is 5G. And because Nokia is focusing its R&D on 5G, this means that the company is slowly enabling its way to create the future of the factory. But what about the human employees?
The future of the Nokia Factory shows that the workers of the factory of the next generation will not be the traditional one. It is also clear that jobs in the factory are not going away.
The company still hires a lot of data scientists, engineers, and other technical experts. This means that Industry 4.0 will need a huge amount of such individuals.