To explore the impact of new technologies and of Industry 4.0 on the manufacturing industry, PwC Belgium, in cooperation with Flanders Make, conducted an extensive study of the situation – a first for Belgium.
This study shows that manufacturing companies in Flanders are ready for transformation in the wake of Industry 4.0, but are concerned about finding the right talent.
It is the first time an in-depth study of this magnitude has been conducted in Belgium regarding the impact of Industry 4.0. The study was based on in-depth interviews at 30 companies with a joint turnover of EUR 16.4 billion and more than 33,000 employees.
The answers show that 93% of the respondents acknowledge that Industry 4.0 implies a significant transformation of their business and can achieve better results. They expect to be able to reduce costs each year by 2.5% on average thanks to technological innovation, and expect to realise annual efficiency gains of 2.4%. This should be possible by combining the data generated by the company, which can be collected by sensors and ERP systems, with information from other partners in the value chain.
The results already confirm that no industrial company can afford to ignore the sweeping changes of Industry 4.0. “Digital transformation is high on the agenda of our manufacturing companies,” says Peter Vermeire, Partner at PwC Belgium.
"83% are actively looking at how to implement the Industry 4.0 concept in their business and operational strategy, although they don't always explicitly refer to the Industry 4.0 concept themselves."
"Half of the companies we spoke with have outlined the main strategic action points, and 86% believe they are on the same level as the competition – or even have a head start – in terms of Industry 4.0.”
Surprisingly, the survey shows that manufacturing companies are concerned most of all about the human side of Industry 4.0. Not only because of the effect the concept will have on the jobs of blue-collar and white-collar workers, but mostly they fear they will not find enough digital talent.
“They might have enough talented employees,” says Dirk Torfs, CEO of Flanders Make, “but because the new technologies and applications follow each other in such rapid succession, companies need even more digital expertise to strengthen and expand the existing capabilities.
Life-long learning becomes even more of a necessity.” To help companies expand their digital expertise, PwC Belgium and Flanders Make also provide a blueprint in this study to build truly digital industrial companies.
In the context of Industry 4.0, PwC and Flanders Make have joined forces to provide much better support to organisations at an early stage, enable them to keep pace with rapidly evolving technologies, increase their own impact and speed up their development.
Flanders Make focuses on industry-driven technological research and innovation together with and to the benefit of SMEs and large companies within the Flemish manufacturing industry.
The focus is on open innovation through excellent research in the field of mechatronics, methods for developing products and technology to make them. This contributes to concrete product and process innovations in the vehicle industry, mechanical engineering and production environments. The research results can be applied by a wide range of companies across the manufacturing industry, which often face similar technological challenges. Together, they can innovate better and faster.
Flanders Make also attaches great importance to international cooperation in the field of innovation and to participation in European research projects. Flanders Make has establishments in Lommel and Leuven and at the 5 Flemish universities: KU Leuven, University Antwerp, University Ghent, University Hasselt and Free University Brussels.