“Genesi”, the new manufacturing era

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Over 6,000 sensors, 116 robots and an automation level that is the highest in the world inside Electrolux Group. These are some of the innovations in “Genesi” factory at Susegana, a revolution in the way of producing in the name of industry 4.0.

By now, it is highlighted how competitiveness is unavoidably accomplished by means of Industry 4.0 logics and of digitalization, determining the evolution of production modalities and transforming factories and products. Electrolux has made great strides with Genesi, an extremely advanced factory framed in an innovation course already undertaken by the Swedish multinational. Maximilian Jessula, plant manager of Electrolux Susegana, accompanies us inside Genesi, in a sort of “virtual travel” at the discovery of this “factory of the future” or, rather, “of the present”.

Maximilian Jessula, plant manager of Electrolux Susegana

Why the name Genesi? What does it represent?
“Genesi” is a trenchant immediate name, which involves an evident recall to the concept of birth and creation and, consequently, to the idea of future. Our new factory, in fact, is framed in a digital transformation programme that Electrolux has undertaken on a global scale; it represents, in particular, the first concrete example of a manufacturing modality that looks ahead, based on a perfect synergy between people’s work and the activity of machines, to satisfy consumers’ and market’s requirements in an innovative and sustainable way.

How is the factory structured and what are the most innovative aspects?
The plant takes up a surface of 42,000 sq. m.; it hosts 1.2 km of assembling lines equipped with over 6,000 sensors and 116 robots. As many as 69 automated plants are installed on the two lines and this shares in determining the most innovative feature of the new factory, that is to say its automation level, equal to 49: the highest in the world inside Electrolux Group. This means that the use of robotics has, actually, doubled; besides, the innovative factor of interconnection and central management of deriving data has been introduced. The main innovations adopted in new lines concern the control and the synchronization of all plants in the factory, the real-time supply of data and information about production processes and involved plants, the management and synchronization of all materials’ and stocks’ movements and, furthermore, the reduction of manual control activities and of products’ movements. Finally, the use of platforms and apps for the real-time control of KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and trends has been introduced.

In terms of advanced automation and digitalization, what kind of tools, devices and technologies are present?
Speaking of advanced automation, it is worth noticing the presence of as many as 42 automated quality measuring systems of Genesi built-in refrigerators produced by the factory, as well as the equipment consisting of over 6,000 sensors: the target is enabling the prevention of anomalies and defects in real time, aiming at the “Zero defect” to implement more and more reliable products, in compliance with the market’s most ambitious expectations. Moreover: together with different new technologies, these tools will assure a product able to release even 20% less of CO2 and to meet punctually modern consumers’ all requirements. In the digitalization front, it is important to highlight workers avail themselves of tablets, smartwatches, touchscreens and artificial vision systems. Finally, fundamental is the presence of the central processor DOME, Digital Operations Manufacturing Execution, Electrolux Group’s project for factories’ digitalization.

Inside Genesi, built-in refrigerators are manufactured exploiting the most advanced industry 4.0 logics

What advantages are determined by such a high automation level?
In manufacturing, as above-mentioned, the very high automation level has allowed a complete re-engineering of processes and products, characterized by a better conformity with the latest standards. Each refrigerator is subjected to very severe controls, which include 200,000 door openings, 50,000 drawer openings, 1,680 quality test hours for each model in climatic chambers with various temperatures and humidity levels. In product development phase, each model undergoes an overall amount of 6,720 test hours. All this with the addition of 4,700 test hours where the consumer’s experience is reproduced: the daily use of fridge-freezers is replicated from the point of view of load and environment temperature, ensuring the appliance’s resilience to difficult conditions.

Is the data role central in Genesi’s activity?
Yes, data hold a fundamental importance. Through over 20 km of network cables, in fact, the central DOME processor collects and coordinates in real time millions of data that every day come from factory’s automations and systems; data used to support people in their daily job, permitting to intercept well in advance possible quality defects and putting at disposal each single product’s “evolutionary story”.

Is Genesi exclusively dedicated to the production of built-in refrigerators? Are they products that stand out for their qualitative level and sustainability?
Yes, Genesi is exclusively dedicated to the production of built-in refrigerators. Characterized by the unmistakable Scandinavian Electrolux design, which matches an elegant aesthetical impact with functionality, safety and durability, the refrigerators can boast several features that make them unique: the fastest installation time on the market, 45% of additional capacity compared to a standard fridge-freezer, the high energy efficiency, the exceptional silence and performances, further improved compared to products in the previous range. Developed to support people in adopting more sustainable habits, they aid consumers in decreasing food wastes, exploiting specific technologies such as ColdSense, which restores the refrigerator’s right temperature very quickly after the door opening, decreasing wastes by 20%, or TwinTech No Frost, which ensures the utmost freshness and 60% juicier foods; fridge and refrigerator compartments are equipped with two separate independent cooling systems, which assure excellent conservation conditions in each compartment. Moreover, the new sealed Green Zone /+ drawer preserves the quality of fruits and vegetables and up to 95% of their vitamins even after 11 days.

For Genesi, more than 170 new hires were made: with what criteria have you selected the newly employed workers? What profiles have you searched for?
Our choice has privileged highly specialized figures: in particular, experts in robotic connectivity and specialized profiles such as team leaders, automation leaders, maintenance technicians and quality specialists.

Have you provided a training programme for the staff?
The relaunch of Susegana plant and the changes implemented have compelled to process an important plan of professional reskilling, dedicated to the adaptation of the team’s competences, aimed at updating or developing all involved workers’ knowledge and professional competences. The use of new more advanced technologies, deriving from industry 4.0 logics and from the digitalization provided for by the industrial plan, needs in fact new technical digital knowledge: therefore, the programme schedules over 7,000 training hours, focused on 36 different issues.

Due to 49 automation level, Genesi revolutionizes the relationship between machine and person

In your opinion, is the transformation towards industry 4.0 essential to be more competitive?
Yes, it is certainly: nowadays the market scenario imposes a relaunch of the product competitiveness, to be implemented on both the range innovativeness front and in the ambit of manufacturing process optimization. The new assembling lines allow a leap of innovation quality, due to the high automation of some processes, which create the preliminary conditions for the manufacturing repeatability and higher stability in the appliance’s performance.

Inside Genesi, how does employees’ way of working change versus more conventional factories?
The workers operating in the line, from 60 to 100 according to the processed product, work with a brand-new modality, aimed at optimizing technical times and at preventing errors or accidents, availing themselves of the typical tools of industry 4.0. All that revolutionizes the relationship between machine and person. Robots, in fact, are entrusted with manual operations and facilitate the work of men, who can more focus on their management.

Electrolux has provided for a professional reskilling plan to adapt the staff’s competences

In Genesi, are the work safety and workers’ welfare enhanced in comparison with less advanced plants?
In Genesi, we have paid great attention to workers’ wellbeing: an agreement with Labour Unions has allowed the investment optimization in terms of productivity, work organization, competence reskilling, generational turnover and ergonomics. We have carried out a study for workstations’ design through the preventive analysis of the main ergonomic indexes (Ocra – MMC – REBA) as application of the regulations and of the best international standards concerning ergonomics: therefore, manual workstations can be customized according to each worker’s physical characteristics.

Does Genesi’s location at Susegana indicate Electrolux Group’s will of going on investing in Italy?
The inauguration of Genesi witnesses to what extent Italy plays an excellent and relevant role for the whole Group: here we operate with over 5,000 employees, five manufacturing sites (Cerreto d’Esi, for hoods, Forlì for ovens and hobs, Porcia for washing machines and washers-dryers, Solaro for dishwashers and Susegana for fridge-freezers) and with as many as three Research and Development centres that operate on a European and world scale in the ambits of garment care and dishwashing (Porcia), conservation (Susegana) and cooking (Forlì). Here work almost 1,000 people, coming from over 34 Countries. In Milan is instead headquartered the commercial company that operates on the Italian market with Electrolux and AEG brands.

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