Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the source of a significant share of job creation in the manufacturing sector. Many SMEs, however, struggle to embrace the Industry 4.0 revolution and the uptake of advanced manufacturing technologies and systems remains a challenge – especially in RIS countries. The most important obstacle in such uptake is the high cost of investments and the lack of financial resources. This goes hand in hand with the lack of skilled personnel required to adopt relevant technologies and business models.
To support such digital transformation of RIS based manufacturing SMEs, the FactoRIS project will build on the following concepts:
- rather than investing into brand-new infrastructure, retrofit the existing equipment to allow adoption of I4.0 methods towards waste-free manufacturing;
- retrain and upskill the personnel to boost the uptake of advanced technologies by SMEs;
- develop innovative didactic methods based on best practices and creative decision-making strategies.
These concepts will be demonstrated via pilot learning factories, which can support the SME board in deciding for a well-suited technology related to their strategy, based on its performance and how it assists humans. Even with no major initial investments, this will enable the manufacturing SMEs to transform their company towards a next-generation factory with more competitive, smarter and sustainable production. At the same time, digital transformation is even more about people than it is about digital technology, since it still stems from the needs of the personnel participating in the production process, which is motivated to understand and effectively conform to the change.