Becoming more performing and innovative is essential for any industrial company that wants to be competitive today and resilient to future challenges. Adopting digital technologies and an industry 4.0 approach is a key step in this direction.

Smart Manufacturing Week 2021 provided insights into tools, resources and good practices that can help companies – SMEs as well as large groups – move forward. It also addressed sustainable manufacturing practices.

Session 1 – Digital landscape

Industry 4.0 is about digitalisation. Industry 5.0 will be about personalisation. And it is aligned with the ambitions laid down in the Government’s strategies that are geared at the twin goals of a competitively sustainable and data-driven economy

In this session, Virginie Lefèbvre, Strategic Advisor to the CEO at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), presented R&D projects as use cases of the practical approach applied by LIST in using the latest technologies to achieve tangible improvements for and with manufacturing companies.

Six cases were highlighted: AI for resources savings (with Ceratizit); AI for R&D process efficiency (with Goodyear); AI for improved services (with Polygone), Augmented reality for improved safety; IOT – for sustainable water and Retrofitting In situ learning.

A focus was also made on the DIH ON TOUR initiative, that can be considered as a success with more than 160 guests, representing about 100 different manufacturing companies in Luxemburg – large players as well as SMEs – in our Yellow Bus; HPC, with a detailed overview of its benefits for industry by Matthieu Lefebvre, Group Leader Supercomputing and Data Solutions at LuxProvide; Gaia-X, the open, transparent and secure digital data ecosystem presented by Gauthier Crommelinck and Ralf Hustadt, both members of the Luxembourg Gaia-X coordination team; and the Digital Innovation Hub initiative in the European landscape, with Géraud Guilloud, Senior Advisor – European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation. Luxembourg Digital Innovation Hub (L-DIH) is the official candidate to become the EDIH for Luxembourg and to take a leading role in the network to be established.

Session 2 – Challenges and opportunities for the Manufacturing sector in Luxembourg

After presenting the mapping of the manufacturing sector, Sara Bouchon, Director Market Intelligence at Luxinnovation, moderated a round table discussion in which Sébastien Wiertz (General Manager of Paul Wurth InCub), Marco Walentiny (Head of the Financing & State Aid unit of the Ministry of the Economy), Joël Schons (owner of Stugalux) and Yannick Malvaux (General Manager of Morgan Advanced Materials) participated.

The aim was to demystify the digitalisation process and to present various support measures from which companies can benefit in this context.

The panellists pointed out that SMEs do not always have the equipment and human skills needed to successfully implement digitalisation or sustainability processes. Pooling equipment and/or human resources from different organisations can therefore be helpful. The Ministry of the Economy is currently exploring this topic, and has begun a reflection on the future of national industry and industrial zones.

Session 3 – Successful smart manufacturing transformations: use cases

This session featured representatives of the academic, chemical and manufacturing sectors who shared their experience and best practices in terms of intelligent transformation of their internal processes.

Cristian Paun, Global Digital Strategist Chief Digital Officer at Dupont de Nemours, opened the session with a presentation entitled “Unleashing the power of digital in the manufacturing world”. “Every company should move from doing digital to being digital,” he said.

Roberto de Gori, IT Manager at Ampacet and Mark Offenburger, ILS Manager at Avery Dennison, both focused on intralogistics challenges. “Change management is key to succeed in such large-scale transformations,” explained Mr de Gori. “We have optimised our material flows. The use of Automated Intralogistics System brings advantages in plant safety.”

Then Professor Holger Voos, from the University of Luxembourg, and Carlo Thom, CIO at Rotarex, explained how human-robot collaboration can boost productivity. “Collaboration with manufacturing companies and Rotarex is a real opportunity for us, and the Luxembourg National Research Fund offers various funding schemes to boost research,” explained Professor Voos.

Francisco Melo, Advisor – European R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation, and Gilles Brandon, Managing Director of Intelligensia Consultants, highlighted EU collaboration opportunities around smart manufacturing, especially with the Fit 4 NMP Programme, aiming to stimulate newcomers to apply for EU funding schemes and join large European consortia.


Session 4 – Digitalisation in SMEs

The objective of this session was to highlight SMEs in the manufacturing sector and share their experiences in the field of digitalisation.

Jérôme Mersch (Production manager at Fenster Mersch), Sven Mertes and Stephan Klang (owners of Traxxion), Armand de Barros (Commercial & Marketing assistant, IT referent at Bexeb), Jean-Marc Pirotte (manager at Soudoplast) and Jean-François Zune (manager at Zelitec Group) shared their own experience.

The digitalisation projects presented dealt with the implementation of ERP, production planning, commercial management and robotisation in production.

All these projects demonstrated the importance of:

  • Having a strategic vision of digitalisation;
  • Defining a clear and realistic roadmap for each project;
  • Involving the staff;
  • Asking for support from external experts and taking advantage of the public support available.

Session 5 – Sustainable Manufacturing

This session was focused on testimonials, from lightweight and recyclable composite materials to digitisation, machine learning and monitoring used to improve sustainability.

Fedor Antonov (CEO, Anisoprint): “In the future, there will be lightweight and sustainable products with a natural look integrated into the environment, composite materials and structures, producing in a different way using different technologies, machines and materials and optimised design.”

Thierry Girot (RDI Partnership Coordination at LIST) presented the LIST platform for composites and sustainable materials. “From sustainable ingredients (novel polymers), we can obtain components and new generation of composite, i.e. thermoset resins called ‘Vitrimers’, that can be repaired, reprocessed and recycled. Agri and paper waste are also used to formulate HP resins and composites.”

Michel Maes (Business Developer Specialist at Ceratizit): “Using digitisation is a good way to reduce energy consumption for production and reduce the carbon footprint. Tungstene carbide, thermal stability and cutting tools increase tool life.”

Sébastien Wiertz (General Manager Paul Wurth InCub): “Machine learning (provide data and statistics and use algorithms) and sustainability working hand in hand.”

Benoit Lespagnol (General Director, All in One Technology) explained how monitoring energy consumption can reduce carbon footprint and lead to sustainable business development.

“Every year, the Smart Manufacturing Week expands its scope, as the challenges for industries of all sizes are imminent,” concludes Caroline Muller, the head of the Luxembourg Materials & Manufacturing Cluster at Luxinnovation. “Industries have to adapt and digital technologies are also there to support them in their sustainable transformation.”

A date has already been set for the 5th edition of the Smart Manufacturing Week, which will take place in June 2022. Stay tuned!

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