Industry 4.0 - Wide-scale Roll-out for Nexans

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, industrial companies have had to completely change their way of working. This has been an opportunity for them to move a step closer to their Industry 4.0 goals: IoT, Data analytics, digitalization, virtualization, predictive modeling, robotization connected with new, affordable cognitive solutions, etc.
Factory 4.0 is not only a question of technology and digitalization, it also means rethinking plant development and, especially, the role of human beings in the manufacturing process.

Industry 4.0: more agile, intelligent and human

Industry 4.0 has been on Nexans’ agenda for the last four years. The long-term goal is to be able to use all of a factory’s available data and settings to manage the manufacturing base in real time and improve performance across several levels, namely (i) operator security, (ii) eliminating non-value added tasks (pushing a drum from A to B, checking if a machine is working, copying the same form four times, etc.), (iii) enhancing energy consumption and the supply chain.

The Group has already embraced digitalization at some of its sites, using 3D printing, Big Data and virtual reality and selecting some of its profit drivers and leading factories for a pilot program.

Industry 4.0 offers considerable benefits. Firstly, it makes the industry more attractive to target markets such as younger customers. Virtual reality is a highly valuable tool for safely training operators in complex areas such as high voltage. It also provides a more qualitative way of working, which challenges the Group to ensure that operators are properly qualified. This does not mean less jobs, but rather different profiles.

However, several challenges still exist, including the cultural challenges of ensuring that the entire organization is on board with digitalization, and of changing routines, modus operandi, and team training. Significant acculturation work needs to be carried out, with reference to use cases, to properly support employees.

Financing can also present a challenge, as digitalization requires considerable investment, sometimes up to €1 million per site. There is rapid return on investment, however, usually in under two years.

To take its digital journey to the next level, Nexans has partnered with Schneider Electric on a joint pilot program, which is set to deliver results by fall 2021, with the aim of reaping the benefits at all of the Group’s industrial sites worldwide.

Partnership with Schneider Electric

Nexans decided to collaborate with Schneider Electric after witnessing the successful roll-out of its digital transformation program across more than 115 sites worldwide. Applying a philosophy of “Think big. Act small. Scale fast”, yielded impressive results. These include an up to 80% reduction in maintenance time by implementing predictive maintenance solutions as well as a 15% reduction in energy costs.

This partnership, which began in 2020, will accelerate the transformation of Nexans into a business driven by clear, rich and actionable data as the foundation for improved business performance, safety and flexibility. The digitalization of its factories will further improve the efficiency of production lines, enable predictive maintenance and reduce carbon emissions. It will also contribute to the Group’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Its cable and service customers will also benefit from this program through enhanced product availability.

Nexans’ collaboration with Schneider began in October 2020 with a local assessment of two pilot plants in Europe. The assessment focused on monitoring energy usage and predictive, conditionbased maintenance. The aim was to identify improvement initiatives that would yield a return on investment in less than three years. More generally, the pilot program has also carried out an audit of Nexans’ current information and operational technology to establish the best systems to deploy for the future. The conclusion of the two plants’ assessment will be used to develop a long-term plan to take the digital transformation to a number of major Nexans sites worldwide.


New generation of services and solutions

Nexans is leveraging its DNA in cabling and electrical systems to create a new generation of innovative services and solutions for customers. The supply chain and operational services provide unprecedented real time visibility and control over assets around the world. The ability to deploy powerful, intelligent IoT devices has huge implications for the way infrastructure is managed. One of the most exciting developments is “digital twin” technology – a real-time digital model of all assets – that not only monitors infrastructure, but also creates simulations, identifies business opportunities and prevents problems before they happen.The IoT will have a huge impact on the development of digital twin technology because it provides accurate real-time data to drive the virtual model.

The advantage of this is that it covers the entire project, from the front-end engineering and design phase right through to asset management. To design, build and manufacture these innovative solutions that meet our customers’ needs, we make extensive use of digital technologies such as cloud, artificial intelligence, edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). We also have a network of partners ranging from startups to multinational groups.

Solutions of this sort are part of our vision for the future. Meanwhile, Nexans’ customers are already benefiting from a growing range of digital services and solutions. As well as the IoT, these include Smart Inventory Management (SIM) and Asset Electrical, our asset management solution for grid operators.

Smart inventory management

Inventories can tie up a huge amount of cash and be complex to manage. This is why we have developed Smart Inventory Management (SIM).

This solution allows customers to monitor and manage their cable stocks easily in real time and reduce the operating working capital associated with inventories by approximately 50%.

The solution combines RFID (radio-frequency identification), demand driven replenishment methods and a cloud-hosted platform to provide 24/7 access to physical inventory throughout the supply chain. It tracks the history of movements and triggers alerts if there is the risk of a product shortage or overstock. Meanwhile, automatic stock replenishments and faster physical inventory counts transform inventory management and boost performance. 

Smart Inventory Management creates a seamless and transparent supply chain between Nexans’ factories and end-users of cable , including distributors, installers, and their subcontractors.

This solution simplifies our customers’ everyday life.

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