Leah Ryan | Switzerland

Last week, Interreg Europe funded DIGITAL REGIONS project was invited to the 3rd International Smart Factory Summit which was held in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. The event was based on the theme of ‘Rewiring Global Value Chains and Production Networks for Resiliency and Sustainability’.

This fantastic event highlighted the ever-growing number of smart factory labs and innovation hubs, while providing a platform for them to exchange best practice in assisting SMEs to uptake more disruptive technologies.

The event was reflective on life after the pandemic. Sustainability, human-centric industries, the metaverse, digitalisation, climate-action, and the future of advanced manufacturing were focused on during discussion panels. It was recognised how SMEs, the hidden champions, required more assistance than ever during and after the pandemic. Presenters noted that reluctance to progress and accept digitalisation could be damaging. However, the smart factory provided SMEs with a facility for technology and talent development. Where there was a lack of knowledge and understanding around Industry 4.0, the smart factory can assist.

A panel of smart factory hub experts explored perspectives for the future. They acknowledged how future hubs should have a digital twin, to be more resilient. A refocus on the overall ecosystem was also noted. There is also a requirement for the translation from academia to industry to be strengthened. Overall, climate change was a very strong theme felt in every aspect of the event.

The Swiss Smart Factory tour was a showcase of impressive smart manufacturing technologies. The focus of the tour was on the people and applications behind the technology, coming together to shape a joint vision of Industry 4.0. A takeaway was that progressing towards more human-centric industries can ignite passion and leadership.

To end the successful 3rd International Smart Factory Summit, there was a company visit to the new GF Machining Solutions Headquarters. Key messages from this tour were the mission to go beyond technology, focusing on the human-centric qualities.