The world is becoming more and more connected, and huge amounts of data are generated every day. Sometimes called “the new oil of the economy”, this data has become a central economic resource and digitalisation is a main driver of economic growth. Luxembourg is a forerunner in this field, and the government released its strategy for data-driven innovation earlier this year.

Our vision is to facilitate the use of digital technologies to drive sustainable growth and productivity.

“Our vision is to facilitate the use of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, coupled with the Internet of Things, high performance computing and big data analytics, in order to drive sustainable growth and productivity across all key strategic sectors,” said Mario Grotz, Director General for Research, Intellectual Property and New Technologies at the Ministry of the Economy. Supporting industry with the uptake and implementation of these technologies is a main priority.

Small steps, big impact

Manufacturing companies generally have in-depth knowledge of their own industry, but often less expertise when it comes to digitalisation. Moving towards data-driven Industry 4.0 is therefore challenging. “The construction sector is one of the least digitalised industries,” said Paul Nathan, technical director of Entreprise Poeckes. The sector faces issues such as price pressure, a constant demand to improve the delivery time, limited human resources and a lack of productivity. “These difficulties can be overcome by implementing digital tools. The digital revolution is a challenge, but also a huge opportunity to improve a situation that we have been complaining about for a long time.”

Husky Injection Molding Systems is implementing a large digitalisation project developed at its production site in Luxembourg. The project covers the complete end-to-end process, from defining solutions for customers and creating evolving drawings to determining what information should flow to the factory and shape the manufacturing. “This was something completely new for us, so we used the smallest product in our portfolio to develop a functioning proof of concept,” explained Digitalisation Solutions Manager Christophe Keller. “The project was a great success: we were able to reduce the process from 8 weeks with a lot of variation to 2 weeks with much control.” However, he recommended using a pilot with limited risk and a dedicated project team in order to avoid a negative impact on day-to-day operations. “Strong commitment of the executive level is also crucial, because this is not easy,” he pointed out.

Don’t forget the human aspect

Smart manufacturing is not only about implementing digital technologies and tools, but also about the company’s way of functioning. “Our digitalisation project has provided a good opportunity to review our processes,” said Laurent Federspiel, Head of Operational Excellence at Ceratizit. “We were determined not to digitalise a bad process! Instead, we decided to map our current ways of functioning and decide how we wanted to work before moving on to digitalisation.”

When projects fail, it is rarely due to technology.

The human aspect is also essential. “When projects fail, it is rarely due to technology. Instead, the reason is almost always a lack of leadership, of involvement of employees and of communication,” said Guy Kerger, the director of the consultancy company MindForest. “If you want your project to succeed, you must talk to people and explain the reasons for and the importance of such a major change. You need to build up their confidence, empower the people involved and communicate regularly with them. It may be a digital revolution, but it is a cultural evolution. It takes time!”

Smart manufacturing support

Luxembourg companies embarking on the digitalisation journey are not left on their own. Luxembourg’s recently created Digital Innovation Hub (L-DIH) provides hands-on support with all aspects of the digital transformation. “We can help you get a clear vision of your business objectives, have all stakeholders on board, choose the right service providers and find the skills that you might need,” said Marina Guérin-Jabbour, who heads the L-DIH at Luxinnovation.

Our teams are there to understand your needs and guide you towards relevant support and financing mechanisms.

The L-DIH also works closely with other Luxinnovation departments. “The topic of digitalisation has many different dimensions, from easing the way business can be done at a very concrete and tangible level to the global opportunities and challenges the world is facing. At Luxinnovation, we believe that all these dimensions need to be addressed,” said the agency’s CEO Sasha Baillie when concluding the conference. “We can help companies of all types and sizes to meet this challenge. Our teams are there to listen to you, understand your needs and guide you towards relevant support and financing mechanisms.”

Photos: © Luxinnovation / Marie De Decker

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