Industry is moving towards a new era of completely automated manufacturing processes and customer interactions, grouped under the heading of Industry 4.0. “Our D4I initiative aims to raise awareness and inform companies about the areas and technologies related to the digital transformation of industry,” explains René Winkin, the director of FEDIL. A message perfectly received by Ceratizit, who embraced this change in order to better meet the needs of its customers.

Digitalisation: The key to success

Digitalisation is at the heart of the matter. “Our vision is to have a tool that would allow our customers to input their requirements for products from Ceratizit online and basically click on a button to launch the manufacturing process in our factory,” explains Digitalisation & Industry 4.0 Manager Claude Dieschbourg. “The whole engineering process behind – the definition of each stage of the production process, the scheduling, the preparation of a quotation and the calculation of the exact price and delivery date – should become automatic.”

In order for clients to be able to design their own products via our interface, we need to simulate all the stages the products need to go through until their finalisation.

For this large-scale project, Ceratizit chose to collaborate with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) in order to benefit from its knowledge in data analytics and artificial intelligence. “In order for clients to be able to design their own products via our interface, we need to simulate all the stages the products need to go through until their finalisation,” Laurent Federspiel, Executive Assistant at Ceratizit, points out. “LIST supports us with developing a mathematical model – a kind of digital twin – of our factory that will be used to automatically calculate how the various machines will have to be set up to get the desired result. We have around a thousand different machines at the plant, so the challenge is enormous.”

Dealing with big data

This digital transformation will include handling and analysing massive amounts of data. “This is a new field of expertise for Ceratizit. LIST helps us kick off the process and set up the right tools and databases. In the future, we will certainly need to hire more data scientists,” says Mr Dieschbourg. “We are also scanning our network to identify Luxembourg start-ups that could help us take the process further,” Mr Federspiel adds.

Ceratizit is member of the Luxembourg Materials & Manufacturing Cluster and contacted Luxinnovation at an early stage to explore co-funding opportunities for the Industry 4.0 project. The agency supported the company with preparing a well-built request for an R&D subsidy from the Ministry of the Economy and helped in particular with the definition of the project scope, the evaluation of technical risks and the configuration of the budget.

The implementation of Industry 4.0 is not an evolution but a revolution, and we are determined to stay on top.

Luxinnovation also helped draft the collaboration agreement with LIST in such a way that Ceratizit could benefit from an additional co-funding of 15%. However, the joint project with LIST is only the beginning. “This is the first piece of the puzzle, but we will have to add many others,” says Mr Federspiel. “The implementation of Industry 4.0 is not an evolution but a revolution, and we are determined to stay on top.”

In order to enable all companies to carry out this “revolution”, Luxinnovation, together with the FEDIL and the Chamber of Commerce, initiated the project “Digital Innovation Hub Luxembourg” (DIH-L). “This project aims to set up such a digital hub in Luxembourg, a kind of one-stop shop that companies can turn to for help in their efforts to digitise,” summarises Mr Winkin. “The DIH-L will focus on technologies related to Industry 4.0.”

This article was originally published in Luxinnovation’s Annual Report 2018.

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