After three years of construction and limited operations, the next-generation Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center production facility in Singapore is officially online and fully functioning. Announced on November 20, the 935,380-square-foot, seven-floor facility relies on 200 robots to handle over 60 percent of all “repetitive and laborious” responsibilities, allowing human employees to focus on “more creative and productive duties,” according to the company.
In a key departure from traditional conveyor-belt factories, HMGIC centers on what the South Korean vehicle manufacturer calls a “cell-based production system” alongside a “digital twin Meta-Factory.” Instead of siloed responsibilities for automated machinery and human workers, the two often cooperate using technology such as virtual and augmented reality. As Hyundai explains, while employees simulate production tasks in a digital space using VR/AR, for example, robots will physically move, inspect, and assemble various vehicle components.
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By combining robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things, Hyundai believes the HMGIC can offer a “human-centric manufacturing innovation system,” Alpesh Patel, VP and Head of the factory’s Technology Innovation Group, said in Monday’s announcement.
Atop the HMGIC building is an over 2000-feet-long vehicle test track, as well as a robotically assisted “Smart Farm” capable of growing up to nine different crops. While a car factory vegetable garden may sound somewhat odd, it actually compliments the Singapore government’s ongoing “30 by 30” initiative.
Due to the region’s rocky geology, Singapore can only utilize about one percent of its land for agriculture—an estimated 90 percent of all food in the area must be imported. Announced in 2022, Singapore’s 30 by 30 program aims to boost local self-sufficiency by increasing domestic yields to 30 percent of all consumables by the decade’s end using a combination of sustainable urban growth methods. According to Hyundai’s announcement, the HMGICS Smart Farm is meant to showcase farm productivity within compact settings—while also offering visitors some of its harvested crops. The rest of the produce will be donated to local communities, as well as featured on the menu at a new Smart Farm-to-table restaurant scheduled to open at the HMGICS in spring 2024.
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HMGICS is expected to produce up to 30,000 electric vehicles annually, and currently focuses on the IONIQ 5, as well as its autonomous robotaxi variant. Beginning in 2024, the facility will also produce Hyundai’s IONIQ 6. If all goes according to plan, the HMGICS will be just one of multiple cell-based production system centers.