NExT Factory is the prototype for the factory of tomorrow

NExT Factory is one of the most modern production facilities of its kind

The “NExT Factory” project by Schaltbau GmbH sets new standards for the production and logistics of electromechanical switching devices. These standards are supported by the target vision “NExT Factory – Efficient. Smart. Green.” The acronym “NExT” stands for the dimensions “New Energy & Work”, “Excellence in Processes” and “Technology driven”. A brief explanation of each dimension follows.

New Energy

CO2-free factory operation is possible thanks to in-house power generation, intelligent energy distribution and storage, and efficient energy use. The heart of the energy concept is the photovoltaic system and the stationary battery storage. During the day, the PV system can supply the manufacturing area, fully charge the e-vehicles and battery storage and last but not least cool our thermal energy storage (sprinkler tanks) in summer or heat it in winter in order to use the energy to cool or heat the building. The excess electricity is fed into the regional public supply network. In the event of an energy shortage, the operation of the NExT Factory is ensured by green electricity, which Schaltbau obtains from the public grid.

In addition to the classic AC infrastructure, we plan to implement a direct current distribution system (DC supply network) to supply various system components such as the DC EV charging stations. The DC supply network is operated with a nominal voltage of 700 VDC and includes several DC/DC converters for voltage regulation for the consumers.

While efficiency gains are achieved with this architecture, the requirements for system components – such as contactors – are different. Switching direct current at high voltages requires a special technique and cannot be performed by conventional contactors. Schaltbau contactors are therefore part of all systems used in our factory.

New Work

New Work stands for ergonomic and efficient workplace design, opportunities for collaboration and transparency along the entire value chain. For example, the design of the future work environments in the NExT Factory is based on the activities of the employees (activity-based working) and thus enables appropriate environments for individual work, discussions and creative team meetings.

Communication and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams are in the foreground and round off the concept of shared workspaces (desk sharing) and mobile working. Functions should be closely linked, the mutual exchange should take place via short and agile paths (Scrum).

Excellence in Processes

Communication and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams are in the foreground and round off the concept of shared workspaces (desk sharing) and mobile working. Functions should be closely linked, the mutual exchange should take place via short and agile paths (Scrum).

Alongside the development of DC contactors, excellence in processes is certainly one of Schaltbau’s core competencies. Schaltbau already relies on internal experts who are dedicated to process design and optimization. The process design is always based on principles such as the systemic basic principles of the lean philosophy (including flow, cycle, pull).
In cooperation with the technology center PULS (TZ PULS) in Dingolfing, Schaltbau has been training in-house lean managers and lean practitioners for years, who deal exclusively with process improvements and the established CIP process. Further lean experts and so-called energy managers are to be trained in the NExT Factory in order to create a closer link between the topics here as well. “With Lean to Green” – in the future, energy efficiency is to be further improved by applying certain lean methods.

The foundations for value-added structures in the company were laid at Schaltbau a few years ago, when the core processes “pick-to-order” and “configure-to-order” were established. The aim is to ensure the highest possible delivery reliability and the ability to react quickly for standard components (“pick-to-order”) and customer-specific products (“configure-to-order”).

With the introduction of the “move” (internal lean manager) and “smart” (in-house design, planning and construction of certain assembly systems) departments, further foundations were laid for process excellence, which are further expanded in the NExT Factory for continuous improvement of our value-added processes. The basic approach of Schaltbau is characterized by the principle of the north star, which sets the direction and which we approach step by step through our actions and the continuous improvement process.

Technology driven

Technology driven as the fourth dimension of NExT describes the sensible use of technologies or the successive increase in the degree of automation and digitization in the NExT Factory – always according to a holistic approach. Processes (excellence in processes) are the foundation, because only a process-related use of technology can support the value-added process in a meaningful way and make it more efficient.

Especially in the future logistics of the NExT Factory, the use of technology, such as an automatic small parts warehouse with the option of energy recovery, is of great importance in order to be able to respond quickly and flexibly to short-term market reactions.

News about NexT Factory

NExT Factory awarded with the Lean & Green prizeNExT Factory awarded with the Lean & Green prize

Schaltbau GmbH was awarded the special prize “Lean & Green New Factory” for its new production plant NExT Factory.

Do you have questions on this topic?NExT Factory awarded with the Lean & Green prizemarketing@schaltbau.deNews and press
Press release - A pioneering project for energy change throughout EuropePress release - A pioneering project for energy change throughout Europe

NExT Factory is setting new standards for the use of DC technology in industrial production.

Do you have questions on this topic?Press release - A pioneering project for energy change throughout Europemarketing@schaltbau.deNews and press
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NExT Factory is the prototype for the factory of tomorrow