24 June, Marke - In the Vandewiele Experience Center, Flanders Make is launching an acceleration programme for the end-to-end digitalisation of Flemish production companies. Specifically, the research centre is supporting six top companies - Vandewiele, Picanol, Atlas Copco, CNH, Crops and Sabca - in fully and sustainably digitising their production within five years. To ensure that the programme benefits the wider industry, other manufacturing companies are given an extensive opportunity to learn how they too can take the necessary digitisation steps to remain competitive and keep or start up production in our country.
With end-to-end digitisation, all processes are coordinated during digitisation, from product design to production control. This goes steps further than so-called island automation, where usually only one aspect in the production chain is addressed.
Role of Flanders Make
"Flanders Make's main role over the next five years is that of catalyst of a profound business transformation of the manufacturing industry, which will be more competitive, digital and sustainable, and of other industries facing similar challenges in production. Our approach supports the ambition of the Flemish government to become an innovation leader among the European top regions. Through this ambitious accelerator programme, Flanders Make, together with six top companies, takes the lead in realising the business transformation that is crucial for the competitiveness of our industry in Flanders," says Flanders Make President Urbain Vandeurzen.
The research centre is initially creating demonstration environments in its co-creation centre in Kortrijk. These form the basis for pilot production lines at the participating companies. From this they learn how to digitise their entire production in an accelerated and sustainable manner, which enables them to make a large mix of products in low volumes, tailored to their customers. The achievements at the six lead companies can then inspire others.
Building expertise for the industry
"With this end-to-end digitisation programme, we are deliberately opting for a cross-sector approach, so that the knowledge and expertise we gain can be applied to the wider industry. The companies involved will also work closely with local and European technology developers and integrators. This will contribute to greater independence from technology suppliers that are traditionally still often located on the other side of the world. By working together on digitalisation in a sustainable framework, with a thorough focus on workable work, we can anchor production companies in Flanders and also set up new production," explains Dirk Torfs, CEO of Flanders Make.
"As a technological innovator in the manufacturing industry, we at Vandewiele are proud to be part of this programme, with a view to creating digitally interconnected production cells of the future. These new technologies will not only contribute to the growth of our company but will also be an inspiration for other manufacturing companies, enabling them to digitise in a more sustainable way and reduce their ecological footprint," explains Charles Beauduin, President Vandewiele.
Total investment of 65 million euros
The participating companies invest 54 million euros in the accelerator programme. In addition, the Flemish government is providing another EUR 11 million. This brings the total budget to 65 million euro and demonstrates the sky-high ambitions of this project. "With 11 million euros of Flemish Resilience funds, we have set an acceleration programme in motion, with six technology leaders acting as the driving force and example for our entire Flemish manufacturing industry. This is a fine example of Flemish anchoring and cutting-edge technology. The focus on an integrated approach to digitisation not only increases product quality, but also makes the production process smoother and more manoeuvrable for employees," concludes Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Agriculture.
This programme, with contract number VVO21/08, is part of the Flemish Resilience Relay Plan and is supported by the EWI Department of the Flemish Government and by the European Union (RRF).