Sirris makes 4.0 Industry real to support digitisation of Belgian manufacturing companies

Marie-France Rousseau

New pilot factory with 40 experts in Hasselt and Liège available to manufacturing companies 

Sirris, the knowledge centre for the technology industry, has set up a pilot factory. Company managers can now, with the assistance of specialists from Sirris, build and test their own ‘production line of the future’ in realistically recreated industrial environments in Hasselt and Liège. It took 12 months to build the pilot factory and 40 experts work there now. The aim of the knowledge centre is to put all manufacturing companies in Belgium on the road to the fourth industrial revolution.

The prices of robots and sensors dropped by 50% over the past three years and the costs of data storage and data processing decreased by a factor of fifty. This means that connected and data-driven production systems are no longer just an option on paper, but a potential reality for every company. If Belgian manufacturing companies want to remain competitive, they must take the step towards the fourth industrial revolution. They shouldn’t just venture into the unknown, but rather explore a realistic industrial environment. That is why Sirris built a factory environment where entrepreneurs can test - with trial-and-error - how to prepare their own production line for the future.

Walter Auwers, Advanced Manufacturing Business Unit Manager at Sirris:
"Our new 4.0 pilot factory is the ideal learning environment for manufacturing companies in Belgium. Our experienced specialists share all their practical knowledge and insights, both successes and failures. For example, they teach entrepreneurs how to connect a mix of old and new machines, but also how to fully digitise their stock management, for example."

Digitised product lines for personalised products

Sirris’ pilot factory virtually links the Hasselt site to the Liège site. This is actually the daily reality of many manufacturing companies and their suppliers. The site in Hasselt was converted into a digital production line, where the parts arrive from Liège. In these real industrial environments, we will discuss all the possible aspects that manufacturing companies will have to deal with in practice. The Liège site investigates how companies can gather and store all their production and control data during the entire production process using a digital product passport.

Peter ten Haaf, Precision Manufacturing Program Manager:
"The Belgian manufacturing industry is struggling to take the step towards a new digital reality. This is shown in everyday practice. By means of the production of a personalised watch, in our factory we show the possibilities of technological innovation for an entire production chain. This includes 3D metal printing, cobot polishing, laser texturing, vibration polishing and precision milling".

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Marie-France Rousseau

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