The use of data is obviously the cornerstone of digital factories and the key to completely digitalise value chains. New technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) open brand new ways for using data that can bring companies very concrete benefits.

Internet of Things for industry

“Our customers are typically interested in using the IoT for predictive maintenance analyses,” said Konrad Grohs, Director of European FIELD System Department at factory automation company FANUC. “They want to identify the next potential problems with their machines and do planned maintenance work during production downtime.”

To respond to this demand, FANUC is developing its IoT solution FIELD. FIELD will allow customers to connect all their machines and devices, regardless of their age and manufacturer, through a single industrial IoT system. By collecting and analysing data from all their equipment – machines, robots, sensors and so on – they will be able to better understand and improve their processes.

This is the typical scope of an industrial IoT system, but we plan to go one step further.

“This is the typical scope of an industrial IoT system, but we plan to go one step further,” Mr Grohs explained. Working with partners specialised in artificial intelligence (AI), FANUC intends to develop standardised AI applications and use machine learning to help customers better analyse and draw the right conclusions from their IoT data.

The company is also working on systems aimed at controlling edge equipment in close to real time. “Valuable data from production devices will be processed directly at the production site, in close proximity to the manufacturing process. Only necessary information will be sent on to other systems.”

Making digital factories energy smart

Thilo Stieber, Chief Digital Officer Manufacturing at digital transformation specialist Atos, provided another example of concrete benefits to be derived from interconnected, digital factories in the field of energy saving. “Today, energy-saving measures are typically put in place with a top-down approach where companies try to control energy use on plant or asset level,” he said. “However, if you are able to take all data across your factory into account, there might be an additional 25% of energy savings that can be done.”

Currently, companies often implement isolated energy saving initiatives in fields such as power management, production management and the management of smart buildings. “This view in ‘silos’ often leads to missed opportunities, and measures implemented in one isolated field might even have a negative impact on the others,” Mr Stieber claimed. “Companies need to change to a more holistic way of thinking.”

If you are able to take all data across your factory into account, there might be an additional 25% of energy savings that can be done.

The key is to connect data from the different fields and make it accessible for everyone. Mr Stieber recommended running real-time data-centric services on edge equipment, and optimising data management in a cloud environment. “A combination of cloud and edge services can create considerable business gains,” he said.

Interconnection and resilience

Interconnected digital systems can also be powerful tools for R&D teams in global companies. Raymond Adam, Laboratory Manager EMEA at coating, manufacturing, and printing and packaging specialist Michelman, described how the company is moving from independent R&D teams at different geographical locations to a more integrated R&D function. “Our objective is to have interdependent teams with compatible processes, where everyone can follow the work in progress in different regions,” he said. “This is where digitalised processes play an important role.”

Soft skills and change management have become essential.

Michelman deployed its first digitalised R&D process at the end of 2018, and now has a running system that is continuously being improved. “Involving all stakeholders in the systems design, getting the buy-in from the business and executive levels and offering user training and coaching are all critical success factors,” Mr Adam pointed out. “Our digital transformation has changed the technology we use, but even more our human behaviour. Soft skills and change management have become essential.”

The need to interconnect different digital systems and make them resilient was also highlighted by Matthieu Deboeuf Rouchon, Advanced Solution Manager Digital Transformation at innovation and engineering consulting firm Altran. “Resilience is the major technology trend today, not only to ensure that technology can help people in case of difficulties, but also to move towards long-term sustainable activities,” he said. “It is crucial to think globally and locally at the same time, and establish connections and interoperability between your own systems and those of others.”

Read more

DigiJourney: Digital transformation journey for SMEs


DigiJourney idea raises from the participation of two innovation agencies and a research institute, FUNDECYT-PCTEX, LUXINNOVATION and IPA-SA, in European projects related to digitalisation and their expertise in the field. As a result of the peer learning process, this Design Options Paper (DOP) provides other European innovation agencies with recommendations for improving their digitalisation support services for companies in their territories through a well-designed digitalisation client journey aligned with other supportive schemes that favour the implementation of digitalisation measures to improve companies’ competitiveness.
Read more

FEDIL Innovation Award: deadline extended


The 24th edition of the Innovation Prize awarded by FEDIL is currently under way. The deadline for submitting applications has been extended until 20 July to allow companies to better promote their innovative projects.
Read more

Creative industries mobilise against COVID-19


With the Creatives Unite platform, the players of the creative and cultural industries (CCIs) have a tool to share good practice and experience related to the current health crisis. IPIL is one of the stakeholders of the European project “FLIP for CCIs”, which supports this initiative. 
Read more

Luxembourg one of Europe’s innovation leaders


The European Innovation Scoreboard, published by the European Commission, ranks Luxembourg among the EU’s innovation leaders. The main reason is the country’s attractive and efficient research ecosystem.
Read more

Healthy aging: financing opportunities with Eureka and AAL


The quality of life of senior citizens is at the heart of several European funding programmes for research and development activities. Luxembourg companies are invited to join transnational consortia to benefit from this financial support.
Read more

All news