Digital transformation of industry: all the conditions are met

For French manufacturers of all sizes, the conditions are met to accelerate their digital transformation. State of play between collective awareness of the urgency to act, acceleration with the Covid 19 crisis and financial support from the France Relance plan.

Lighting from Marc Fromager, VP of the industrial automation activity at Schneider Electric France.

Has the Covid-19 crisis caused the acceleration of the digital transformation of manufacturers?

Marc Fromager. The entire French industrial fabric has become aware that digitalization is a major issue. In this respect, the crisis has obviously played the role of catalyst: digital technology has made it possible to adapt to exceptional conditions in order to maintain a certain level of activity. More broadly, all the indicators reinforce the idea of ​​the necessary digital transformation: within five years, 30% of company revenues will come from digital. One in five companies could thus be forced to disappear if it does not change within three years. (1)

In my opinion, manufacturers, subject to very strong global competition, have no other choice than to digitize in order to be able to innovate constantly, ensure a level of productivity allowing them to align themselves with international standards, to win flexibility, resilience and maintain their competitiveness. Awareness is there, but 72% of companies have not yet started (2), even though many have started thinking about it. It is crucial that projects materialize quickly.

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Does the France Relance plan offer manufacturers the financial support they need to invest?

First of all, the investments, as Schneider Electric sees them, are reasonable and, above all, ensure an ROI of less than two years. On average, digital transformation is a 45% gain in process optimization, 30% productivity gain, 30% reduction in maintenance (3). Then, the Recovery Plan represents a real opportunity with significant subsidies which mainly concern robotics, cobotics (human-robot collaboration), augmented reality, sensor networks and, of course, energy efficiency and decarbonization. On this last aspect, some projects can be 100% subsidized by combining aid.

Note: the majority of the budget envelopes of the France Relance plan are aimed at SMEs and SMIs. They must take advantage of it!

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What support do companies need?

Above all, they need advice and diagnosis. They want to know where and how to integrate digital into their organization in order to increase productivity, improve their operational efficiency and reduce their environmental footprint. The evolution of skills is also fundamental: digital technology imposes new approaches, new profiles, new models of collaboration. These needs are identical whether it is a PMI or a large group, a 100% automated industry or operating on manual production lines.

It is important to understand that Industry 4.0 is not just about automating processes, it is above all digital technology at the service of productivity thanks to the capture and use of data.

Does digital transformation affect companies of all sizes?

Yes, of any size and any sector. As far as the industry is concerned, we accompany each company from start to finish, starting with the definition of the roadmap and then determining the different use cases on which digital solutions improve operational productivity and efficiency. energy.

After measuring the gains and therefore the ROI, we implement appropriate solutions such as predictive maintenance, traceability, process configuration according to production needs, heat recovery and energy consumption reduction devices, etc. All these solutions are of course “cyber-secured”.

How does Schneider Electric promote innovation among its customers?

We are constantly innovating to improve systems. This notably involves sharing new, often niche solutions, and exchanging best practices with our integrator and installer partners. To facilitate this collaboration, we have opened a platform, Exchange, where the community, including start-ups, pools innovations useful to the ecosystem. This open approach is a source of efficiency and allows us to continue to innovate for the benefit of the entire industry.

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(1) Industry 4.0 – Global Digital Operations Survey 2018 – PWC and BPIfrance – Le Lab – 2018

(2) – 2018

(3) – 2019

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