Toward Intelligent Industry 4.0

Airbus’ InFactory Solutions is delivering for the future with products and services for connected manufacturing

A new Airbus spin-off company – InFactory Solutions – is helping the corporation advance toward its Factory of the Future vision of a fully connected and digital production environment.

InFactory Solutions is a new Airbus spin-off company that is providing its sensor systems, data analytics expertise and engineering services to provide solutions for connected, intelligent manufacturing.

The Ottobrunn, Germany-based InFactory Solutions is dedicated to delivering solutions for more automated, connected and intelligent manufacturing. Focused on this Intelligent Industry 4.0 concept, the start-up company’s three main pillars of operations are: sensor systems; data analytics and engineering consulting services.

Initially, InFactory Solutions – which formally launched its operations this summer – is initially commercializing a sensor that is applied directly to Airbus’s automated fibre placement (AFP) production for monitoring the quality of composite production.

Saving time and money with advanced manufacturing processes

“There is a strong interest in technologies that support a more connected and automated factory environment. Our goal is to be the leader in intelligent manufacturing, and I’m excited about what is ahead for InFactory Solutions!”

Franz EngelHead of InFactory Solutions

"We are able to save significant time and cost by automatically monitoring and inspecting AFP production during the process,” said Franz Engel, who invented the sensor system and is leading the InFactory Solutions start-up.

The first customer for this monitoring system is Airbus’ plant in Illescas, Spain, which will deploy the system by this year for A350 XWB production. Airbus Helicopters in Donauworth and Premium Aerotec in Augsburg will also commence operations with the sensor this year, and InFactory Solutions currently is targeting other applications at the Group’s composite production sites, as well as with external companies.

The spin-off company’s creation has been a true team effort for the Airbus Corporate Technical Office and its diverse functions. The initial sensor system was developed in Airbus Innovations global research and technology network, before the Airbus Corporate Nursery supported its commercialization.

Spinning off a new business with the Airbus Corporate Nursery

The InFactory Solutions team is focusing on Airbus’ goal of more connected and digital production.

"The Nursery recognized this was a very promising technology for composite production and intelligent manufacturing,” said Caroline Legler, New Business Development Manager at the Nursery. “We supported InFactory Solutions in building a business case, as well as funding, coaching and networking to help this project take off!”

Backed by the Nursery, a pilot project was run through the Group’s APWorks subsidiary for 3D-printing and advanced manufacturing, before InFactory Solutions took responsibility of commercializing the AFP monitoring system.

To foster the company’s commercial kick-off, InFactory Solutions is building an expanding workforce of engineers, software developers, data experts and business development staff. This enables InFactory Solutions to work on expanding its portfolio with new sensor systems – such as for cure-flow and surface treatment monitoring – as well as establishing data analytics services for intelligent factories.

Offering data analytics services and expertise is a key part of InFactory Solutions future vision, Engel explained. “Digitally collecting and analyzing data is an important aspect of Intelligent Industry 4.0 – helping connect each step of the production process,” he said. “Our expanding services in this area will allow companies to reach their goals for more efficient and optimized manufacturing with less failures.”

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