We’re not talking about factories in space, though these imaginary spacecraft could just as well be whopping robotic arms waiting for a chance to build something intergalactic. We’re talking about space in factories.
Wired Magazine reports that 14 football fields could fit into the Tesla factory. Most facilities don’t have that luxurious space. A smaller space often means that there are more challenges for the motion control systems.
If you have the room to run seven different lines to package seven different products, you can have machinery that does just one job. One package, one job, one line.
If your space is smaller, you may have to use one line for seven different products. That means that you need machinery that will accommodate all seven products, and robots that can pick up all seven.
Programmable machinery in modular systems is one solution.
Rexroth is also working on machinery with a smaller footprint. The new Indradrive line takes up less space than the legacy machinery. Not only are the components themselves smaller, but many do not require cabinets.
Multi-use modular components with fewer cables, smaller footprints, and cabinet-free technology sound perfect for the factory that’s dealing with space challenges. But that’s only when we’re thinking about an empty space. Often, it’s more practical to configure new machinery in the same space. Sometimes big changes require too many other changes in the system.
At this point, awareness of space issues and plans going forward may be the most essential part of the equation.