How do you turn your SME into a Factory of the Future?

As manager of a (SME) manufacturing company located in a high cost land such as Belgium, how can you continue to guarantee a sustainable future for you and your personnel? This question was answered recently during 2 information sessions held at the Flemish Innovation Centre on 25 February and 17 March. SMEs from East Flanders, Limburg, Flemish Brabant and Antwerp were certainly inspired by the sessions.  

Made Different, which is supported by the Flemish Government, wants to provide the manufacturing sector with a future firmly based in the industrial landscape of the 21st century. The programme allows businesses to test themselves against each of the seven transformations they require to make in order to become a company a ‘Factory of the Future’. Sirris designed a simple scan for this. The scan is the starting point on the route towards becoming a Factory of the Future.

The first four Flemish companies to successfully take this route were presented with the Made Different Award on 3rd February: Provan, Newtec, Continental and Dentsply Implants.

During the information sessions, two of the Factories of the Future, Newtec and Dentsply Implants, talked with the participants about their strategies and experiences. In addition to this, two SMEs currently involved in becoming Factories of the Future took to the podium: ARGON Measuring Solutions and Belparts. ARGON underwent a service to solution model transformation that has certainly benefited the company: thanks to its 3D measuring technology and solutions it has recently been able to convince large automotive and aircraft OEMs. Seven years ago Belparts transformed itself from being a distributor of heating, ventilation and climate control system components for buildings, into a manufacturer of these products. It has been operating internationally since the introduction of its own products in 2010 thanks to its heavy emphasis on innovative processes and products.

The four speakers all had something in common, which was passion for what they were doing, and this certainly encouraged an enthusiastic response from the participants. Up to now, ten of the companies who attended have contacted Sirris or Agoria, so that together they can take the initial step towards becoming Factories of the Future. These companies have recognised the need to make our manufacturing sector much more competitive with the factories located in low wage economies, and as soon as possible.