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30 entrepreneurs discover Industry 4.0 winners

Together with Voka and its Limburg Chamber of Commerce, Flanders Make organised an industry 4.0 road trip across Germany. 30 participants travelled along inspiring examples such as Siemens and DHL and got themselves fully immersed in Industry 4.0.

The three-day trip to Germany brought 30 top industrialists, knowledge actors and public partners to 7 innovative companies that focus heavily on Industry 4.0 technologies, including DHL, Siemens, Festo, SEW Eurodrive, GFT Technologies, Industry 4.0 Maturity Center and ABB. Highly advanced automation, connectivity and the self-learning ability of computers offer many new opportunities in the production process of businesses. “Industry 4.0 is crucial for the digital transformation of our manufacturing companies. We want to help companies to integrate these evolutions into their operations”, says Catherine Dreesen, Director Internationalisation and innovation at Voka – Chamber of Commerce Limburg.

One of the participants is Jan Van Nylen from ZF Wind Power, a manufacturer of gearboxes for wind turbines. “The visits to the Industry 4.0 Maturity Center, the electric vehicle builder e.Go and the DHL Innovation Center were already on my bucket list and are now combined in one road trip. This not-to-be-missed opportunity is a truly enriching and inspiring experience. Here, in the home country of industry 4.0, you can see the technology at work in actual practical applications.”

Cooperation is key

“Old recipes no longer suffice. Developing a culture of agility and cooperation among our companies and knowledge institutions is of crucial importance. We at Flanders Make also play an important role here. Companies that work together can achieve much more and do so at a quicker pace. This not only applies to large businesses, SMEs are given equal opportunities as the Internet-of-Things lifts barriers and provides access to the global market”, explains Dirk Torfs, CEO of Flanders Make and head of the road trip delegation.

“Industry 4.0 enables companies to respond to the demand for personalised, smart and connected products at a cost that is similar to that of mass production”, Cathérine Dreesen continues. “In addition, these products can be delivered within shorter time frames thanks to an agile production infrastructure and processes in which man and machine work harmoniously together.

Both Voka – CoC Limburg and Flanders Make are convinced that this kind of joint initiatives offers major added value. “Cooperation creates added value, there’s no doubt about it. This initiative is a great example and we’re sure that we’ve offered a great deal of inspiration to the Flemish manufacturing industry. Now it is up to the participants to put this inspiration into practice and take the Flemish manufacturing industry to the next level.”