Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg
The 2023 Smart Manufacturing Week

Smart manufacturing towards sustainability

The 2023 Smart Manufacturing Week, organised by Luxinnovation, kicked off with a resounding emphasis on sustainable manufacturing. Speakers at the opening of the conference explored the industrial landscape in Europe and Luxembourg, bringing up the present difficulties, strategies, and solutions that can enable a sustainable transformation of the manufacturing industry.

Manufacturers that want to remain competitive in the coming decades need to take decisive action today regarding sustainability. These concrete actions that businesses can implement, in addition to several support mechanisms in place to facilitate a sustainable transition, are highlighted during the 2023 Smart Manufacturing Week organised by Luxinnovation from 6 to 9 June 2023.

We will use our digital capacity and AI preparedness to ensure that our manufacturing sector is greener and smarter.
Franz Fayot

Key decision-makers, business leaders and experts convene at various levels to explore best practices that can reinforce the sustainable transition of the manufacturing industry in Luxembourg.

Making manufacturing carbon-neutral through digitalisation

Smart manufacturing towards sustainabilityDuring the opening of the conference at Luxexpo the Box, Minister of the Economy Franz Fayot highlighted the rapid development of Luxembourg’s digital infrastructure, which has been enhanced with state-of-the-art data centres, and the high-performance supercomputer that is easily accessible to businesses.

He also insisted on the rapid development of the country’s cybersecurity and cloud capacity. “We are among the 20% of countries worldwide that are prepared for the industrial revolution in artificial intelligence. We will use our digital capacity and AI preparedness to ensure that our manufacturing sector is greener and smarter, because it is one thing to be digital and have an AI capacity, but it is quite another to put that capacity to use.”

Using the example of Luxembourg’s industrial steel heritage, where the production of steel from locally and regionally sourced scraps was initiated, Minister Fayot demonstrated the importance of the manufacturing sector in laying the groundwork for a sustainable and competitive economy in Luxembourg. He stressed the potential of developing “green valleys” in Luxembourg, noting that this plan is highly aligned with the EU Net-Zero Industry Act, which aims to stimulate clean technology manufacturing.

More R&D support for companies to reach their goals

In line with the commitment to support companies in the journey towards sustainability, the Minister announced plans for a new law bill that will reinforce R&D grant schemes by the end of the summer to help strengthen the sustainability agenda. “We plan to enhance the intensity of aid schemes for businesses that come with ideas on implementing sustainability, but also use fiscal and tax measures as incentives. In the last tripartite agreement, we decided to introduce new tax grants that also go towards greening and promoting renewable energy and environmentally friendly investments,” he underlined.

An evolving global manufacturing landscape

Smart manufacturing towards sustainabilityKlaus Beetz, CEO, EIT Manufacturing, an innovation community for European manufacturers, pointed out global trends in manufacturing and the need for Europe to reinforce its investments in innovation. “It is important for securing the future of manufacturing,” Mr Beetz stated. “Manufacturing is still at the core of prosperity and growth here in Europe. We have more than 2 million enterprises active in manufacturing in Europe and employing more than 32 million European citizens.” he explained.

The effects of COVID and the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, the energy crisis and high gas prices, financial uncertainty linked to high inflation and interest rates were all highlighted as both challenges and opportunities for growth during the conference.

Every decision that we don’t make is going to cost a fortune. And as business leaders, as politicians, we have a tremendous impact on the future.
Adrien Villani

Simultaneously, the importance of scaling up the adoption of new technologies, employing highly skilled workers in factories, and redesigning manufacturing to integrate the sustainability dimension in all production processes was emphasised.

Operational costs and change in mindset

Smart manufacturing towards sustainabilityRené Winkin, Director of the Luxembourg industry federation FEDIL engaged the audience using a live poll to appraise Luxembourg’s readiness for a sustainable transition.

While many attendees cited a shift in mindset toward sustainability as a key requirement for the sustainable transition, the director emphasised that operational costs are critical for most businesses and will be the real measure of industry’s readiness to become more sustainable.

Regarding other concerns listed on the survey, such as capital expenditure, technical and infrastructure readiness, and supply chain challenges, Mr Winkin expressed that “solutions are available, and uncertainties are quite low.” And while a change in mindset toward a sustainable transition is important, companies generally have a positive attitude towards the transition in Luxembourg.

Smart solutions to sustainability challenges: Avery Dennison

Smart manufacturing towards sustainabilityAdrien Villani, Plant Manager at Avery Dennison, an innovative packaging materials solutions supplier, discussed how the company was able to lower its gas consumption per unit of production by 18% in six months by implementing smart actions. Among these were investments in gas measurements, ensuring that all equipment functions well, and finding areas where energy usage might be more efficient. A team of employee volunteers was also formed to push the sustainability agenda in the company’s manufacturing facilities.

“I don’t think financial barriers are that big for companies to embrace the sustainability journey. Because as soon as you start embracing it, you actually generate savings that feed your appetite to go further,” Mr Villani said. “The percentage of savings realised from investments in gas measurements, for example, will motivate you to make additional investments,” he continued. “There is a sense of urgency…. Every decision that we don’t make is going to cost a fortune. And as business leaders, as politicians, we have a tremendous impact on the future.”

The company is currently in the course of implementing additional actions to meet its 2030 gas reduction target through a series of future projects targeting a switch to renewable energies in parts of its processes.

A brilliant opening, but there’s more…

Smart manufacturing towards sustainability“Sustainability has three dimensions: planet, people and prosperity. Over the next few days, we will take all these three dimensions into account and aim to give you insights into how optimising small steps in your manufacturing processes or changes in your value chains can have a positive impact on the environment as well as on your productivity and turnover,” disclosed the CEO of Luxinnovation, Sasha Baillie.

Attendees at the annual conference can look forward to a several activities including factory visits – to Avery Dennison, Fanuc, IEE and Gradel Lightweight – interactive modules and presentations, business matchmaking sessions, meetings with the European Digital Innovation Hubs of Luxembourg and Saarland, consultations with multiple institutional exhibitors, key insights from experts on funding mechanisms, and many more.

Photo credit: Sophie Margue/ Luxinnovation

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