Six experts at Sirris were asked about the coronavirus’ impact on the manufacturing industry, and in particular on the Factory of the Future transformation processes.

Peter ten Haaf, Program Manager Precision Manufacturing believes that the long-term philosophy of Industry 4.0 has remained unchanged, even though its implementation has been delayed. The crisis will above all influence future technological choices.

On that note, which technologies will become increasingly important?

Benjamin Denayer, Team Leader Additive Manufacturing, notes that 3D printing has been used to produce medical devices, such as respirators, and that this technology can now offer a solution to many companies.

Walter Auwers, Business Unit Manager Advanced Manufacturing, also perceives a growing awareness of the importance of cybersecurity, which is increasingly better understood in the field of production. “The devastation caused by this virus is also possible in a computer environment, with the same effect. So we started thinking about how to protect ourselves.”

Are we going to see any new opportunities for the manufacturing industry as a result of the crisis?

Bart Verlinden, Program Manager Smart and Digital Factory, believes that “anyone who can be very fast, with short lead times, can gain market share. Short lead times will attract new customers, even for new parts.”

Alain Jacques, Engineer Smart and Digital Factory added: “I would like to think that what is happening locally and nationally will now receive more attention and support, and we may even see increased localised production”

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How will companies in the future be able to anticipate this type of crisis situation that is likely to recur?

“How can we collaborate more and better remotely? We are not just talking about videoconferencing, but also working together remotely on projects, monitoring production, communicating with customers, … and this is all part of Industry 4.0.”, said Peter ten Haaf.

“Of course, we will not be able to work at the prices that are charged in Asia, but we have learned to be ‘smarter’ and to develop very efficient production tools. Everything will also depend on the conditions and possible help to support companies and the economy. We will need a global, post-covid-19 vision which will apply equally to Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels, and we will need to re-evaluate our own practices”, concluded Alain Jacques.

Read the full article on the Sirris website: