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Belgium counts four new Factories of the Future

Cargill (Izegem), Danone (Rotselaar), Delhez Tôlerie (Thimister-Clermont) and L’Oréal (Libramont) are the new Factories of the Future. In seven years, the select leading group of the most future-oriented production companies in Belgium has thus grown to a club of 42 companies, which together have invested more than 1.9 billion euros over the past five years.

Factories of the Future are companies that invest in digitisation, in their staff, in smart processes and products and in world-class production. They use energy and materials in a well-considered way and stimulate the involvement, creativity and autonomy of employees. To earn the coveted title, companies must score at least four out of five on a maturity scale in each of these transformation domains during a critical audit by independent experts.

Despite Covid, 90% of planned investments implemented

Although 2020 was a year full of extraordinary challenges, the lingering corona crisis did not dampen the Factories of the Future. A survey of all 42 titleholders shows that in the heat of the crisis, 8 companies remained 100 per cent operational. The other Factories of the Future did not experience much of a drop in activity: on average, they remained operational between 70 and 95 percent. This remarkably good result was made possible by a mix of interventions, such as quickly redesigning production halls and introducing a variety of safety measures and alternative work practices to provide optimal protection for employees. Several companies also report that they found new markets during the crisis and that they accelerated their digitalisation efforts, particularly through the mandatory introduction of teleworking where possible.

The 42 Factories of the Future also carried out an average of 90 percent of planned investments during the corona year 2020. This includes both infrastructure renovations and investments in new machines, automation and digitalisation. The aspect of well-being at work was also particularly high on the agenda of these industry leaders during the corona year. “We would rather have a head start in our organisation, than have to catch up with the market afterwards,” is the unanimous opinion. 

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