FOCUS ON PRODUCTION INNOVATION WILL STRENGTHEN COMPETITIVENESS OF FLEMISH MANUFACTURING COMPANIES
Lommel – 16 May 2018. The Board of Directors of Flanders Make, Flanders’ research centre for the manufacturing industry, has decided to realise the expansion of its activities in West Flanders on the site Graaf Karel de Goedelaan in Kortrijk, through a leasehold on plots of land owned by UGent and Howest. Flanders Make already has establishments in Lommel, focussing on automobile research, and Leuven, where mechanical engineering is the key research domain. From Kortrijk, Flanders Make will support manufacturing companies primarily in their production research and innovation efforts. This will allow both large companies and SMEs to grow into model plants for the future that are among the global top players.
“West-Flanders is the heart of the Flemish manufacturing industry”, says Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flanders Make. “For Flanders Make, this new establishment in Kortrijk, close to other knowledge institutions and manufacturing companies, is hugely important. Here, we will create a strong ecosystem of knowledge actors and companies that will join forces to strengthen our manufacturing industry. As such, we are fully committed to help creating a blossoming Flemish industry with companies that continue to be leading on a global scale.”
INVESTING IN PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT IS VITAL
Next to product development, production development is of vital importance to companies that want to remain competitive. Manufacturing in small series at the cost of mass production is one of today’s biggest challenges for companies in Flanders. And thus also a very important element in the strategy of Flanders Make.
Geert Ostyn, Vice President of Flanders Make and VP Weaving Machines with the Picanol Group, explains: “At Picanol, we build weaving machines that are used across the world, in various conditions. Furthermore, the requirements of our customers are becoming increasingly specific. Only by investing in an extremely flexible high-tech production environment, we can build the machines that our customers expect from us. By joining forces with Flanders Make, together with other companies that face similar challenges and with other knowledge institutions, we can realise highly innovative solutions, remain competitive and maintain production activities in Flanders."
“We’re working together for many years already with many companies from this region, says Dirk Torfs, CEO of Flanders Make. “From Kortrijk, we will be able to support both large companies and SMEs even better with production-related research and innovation, using digitisation (Industry 4.0), to improve and strengthen their production processes. This will help them to grow into high-performance production plants and “factories for the future” in Flanders, which make personalised products at the cost of batch production and are among the world’s top players.”
GROWING WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE FLEMISH GOVERNMENT
Flemish Innovation Minister Philippe Muyters supports Flanders Make in this new step in its continued growth: “The Flemish government allocates 15 million euro for the construction and development of the activities of Flanders Make’s new establishment in West Flanders. I am convinced that our Flemish manufacturing companies will fundamentally strengthen their competitiveness in Europe by contributing to the research and innovation efforts in the new innovation ecosystem that is being built.”
Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois is given the final word: “The Flemish government considers the Flemish manufacturing industry a very important asset for our future welfare. By promoting mutual cooperation, we resolutely choose for innovation as an engine for strengthening our competitiveness. Furthermore, this new site of the research centre will give an extra economic boost to West Flanders, which is located outside the ‘Flemish Diamond’.”