atelier actuel Hygipanel

Hygipanel innovates in a different way... with Sirris by its side

14 March 2023
Alain Jacques

For over 30 years, Hygipanel, located in Fernelmont, has specialised in the development, manufacturing and installation of complete and simple wall and ceiling cladding, that meets the most stringent hygiene and maintenance standards, specifically HACCP.

Taken over in 2019, the manufacturing company producing composite plates (fibreglass and resin) covered in gelcoat, sought to bank on sustainable development to ensure its long term continuity and offer a return on investment for the buyer.

The challenge: 4x more volume in 5 years

The Made Different diagnostic has put a spotlight on the major challenges faced by this SME and the actions to be taken to improve the manufacturing process, while still offering flawless quality. A challenge, when you know that this artisan SME is also seeking rapid growth.
Initially the buyer planned the construction of a new building and the acquisition of new production machinery. In the end, the collaboration with Sirris enabled the design of an automated line fully integrated in the existing hall.

The end clients also had more specific requirements in terms of finishes, films, dimensions, … The development of specific equipment is in progress and may require a “logistical” extension of the principal building. 

The challenges are now considered more calmly as the phasing will track the upswing in sales and production. This will be more palatable from a cash flow perspective.

vue atelier actuel
Vue 3D étude finale
Actual atelier Final 3D-study

Tailored solutions conceived in close collaboration

Production has been reorganised and industrialised from the purchase of raw materials through to the customisation of products, along with the creation of industrial processes.

To implement a change such as this and integrate new technologies, there is a focus on the well-being of employees and the involvement of the entire team, through communications, training or active participation. 

Innovation must take into consideration the corporate social responsibility of the company (CSR) over the medium and long term. The evolution of products and selection of ranges offered have also made it possible, by their very nature, to reduce the VOC emissions.  By considering all these aspects, the emissions processing equipment can be defined. The installation of product application equipment in confined areas will make it possible to collect these emissions and facilitate optimal air conditioning throughout the workshop.

It was necessary to phase the digital transformation, by starting with support services and then industrialisation. Digitalisation of work stations will take place only once the automation is installed, validated, optimised and tested.

The adaptation of the production tool will track growth with a slight delay (post-covid period). However, in two years, Hygipanel has already seen its staff numbers grow from 6 to 15 employees.

Feasibility study and action plan

The Made Different action plan was used as the basis for the company development strategy. Sirris then proposed a collaboration with SPW EER (the Walloon Public Service for Economy, Employment, Research) within the context of a feasibility study covering three axes:

  1. Process and manufacturing study
    The analysis of the production cycle brought to the fore that too long polymerisation time caused bottlenecks. Thanks to a survey of the market and collaboration with certain wholesalers, different processes were developed to fix this issue.
  2. Industrialisation
    The innovative approach to streamline flows and automate the movement of products will require less effort on the part of operators and will considerably improve the overall efficiency that is currently lacking. Surprising solutions have been found thanks to an important technological survey. It was necessary to undertake various ‘proof of concept’ validations with certain equipment suppliers to confirm the transposition and feasibility in Hygipanel’s specific sector. All this with guaranteed quality and improved quantity control of products consumed. 
  3. Environmental technological breakthrough
    All stakeholders involved in the composite sector have considered alternatives to polyester or the optimisation of its reuse for greater environmental circularity. We identified the environmental solutions, by examining the extent to which it could affect the production tool in question, or even make it obsolete too quickly.

The feasibility study made it possible to determine the possible risks. Seeking local industrial partners wanting to be involved in this project has begun with a realisation of these investments expected at the end of 2023.


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