Rebirth out of the Crisis - Making Europe Stronger

07.09.2020

How to approach the COVID-19 crisis from a European Industry 4.0 perspective?

The strategic document “Rebirth out of the Crisis-Making Europe Stronger”, prepared by SmartFactory.eu, highlights the great challenge that the Industry and Advanced Manufacturing sector is facing due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. In this document we present 6 concrete actions to address this challenge.

For many years, the Industry and Advanced Manufacturing sector has had to face very important challenges in its activity. Customers can now place orders online that they expect to receive within days, rather than weeks or months. The Internet has made product customization easier, leading the industry to redirect from mass production in low-cost countries to more regional production chains, in order to react more quickly to changing customer demands. These developments have accelerated the need for more flexible and effective production strategies and technologies. Industry 4.0 - invented in Europe - is synonymous with the rich combination of new advanced technologies that help Industry respond to these rapidly changing challenges of today's world.

However, the Advanced Manufacturing and Industry sector is facing its biggest challenge in 100 years: The COVID-19 crisis!

This crisis is deeply affecting not only customers, but the entire manufacturing industry globally. Over the past decades, global production networks have become closely connected thanks to long and complex supply chains. Products are designed in one part of the world, produced by a network of suppliers from different countries (often with cheaper labor costs), and ultimately delivered in large quantities to markets across the globe. But the current crisis has brought to light the problems of these complex networks. If one or more of the providers or links in the chain fails, these complex chains break, leading to massive and damaging results. This combination of challenges inevitably forces us to redesign our production strategies. Companies must move from complex supply chains across the world (with so many intrinsic risks) to more local supply chains, which carry less risk and greater flexibility to serve individual customer needs.

Nevertheless, this crisis is also a great opportunity for Europe! 

We have a very large and diversified market with strong economies and proven, high-quality manufacturing experience. But right now the European manufacturing and advanced manufacturing industry must adapt to new market needs, and to changes in supplier and supply structures. We have to define a European Industrial Recovery Plan, in accordance with the European Green Deal initiative, which focuses on investing in innovation, new skills and new technologies to ensure Productive, Technological and Digital Sovereignty in Europe.

The 6 concrete actions that we propose are,

1. Accelerate digital transformation

2. Strengthen networks of suppliers

3. Harness research and innovation

4. Create agile, fast learning, data rich businesses

5. Build digital talent and digital cultures

6. Deliver the European Green Deal Plan

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