Industry 4.0

Open discussion with the entrepreneur Jacques Weyn


Industry 4.0

Open discussion with the entrepreneur Jacques Weyn

Industry 4.0 Vision or Hallucination?

With Jacques WEYN, CEO of DOCP

April 14th, 2023

The digitalisation of the manufacturing industry will not happen in a snap. For the front runners, it already started, but if happening, it will take years even decades for a vast majority.


During this series of sessions, we invited our participants to make their own mind on Industry 4.0 in collecting key insights from the users perspective, the ones facing the daily challenge of manufacturing.

Open discussion

What could be the winning steps to turn industry 4.0 vision into execution?
The Insights we ended up to in a nutshell:

  • Customer relationship management is your key priority ;
  • Production flexibility is not an option ;
  • Meeting with Customer’s expectation on prices reduction is one of your priorities ;
  • Industry 4.0 will happen thanks to the foundation of the quality system ;
  • In the medical domain, it is mandatory to record every move in real time ;
  • The ERP is the most deployed software ;
  • MES are sometimes deployed ;
  • Significant results on environmental footprint and energy saving can be achieved combining sensors to a data management system on cloud ;
  • Digitization is done and is progressing ;
  • Real time monitoring of the production is in progress ;
  • The data are not exploited, and there is no anticipation at this time ;
  • AI is already there, but locally. It is not implemented at the fab level but at the machine level ;

What keeps a CEO of a manufacturing SME up at night ?

The most important asset of a manufacturing company is the customer trust. The customer relationship is what should keep a CEO up at night. As a supplier, your company receives a score from your customer, and you want to be the preferred customer to guarantee future business. If a risk of delay occurs, it needs to be reported to the customer in order to agree on the mitigation measures. As a supplier, the SME is like a black box for the customer.

The second aspect is of course the production. The process must run smoothly.

The business renewal is the 3rd priority. The product life cycle is typically of 5 to 7 years. A manufacturing company in the plasturgy sector must then renew its business by 15 to 20% each year.

And finally, the cost reduction plan is also the continuous effort of an SME. Your customer expects this cost reduction plan to enable a 3 to 4% reduction on the pricing. We are talking of products with a 500M parts per year throughput.

And when it comes to industry 4.0, the customers indeed ask about the plans on the adoption of these concepts, but it is not always clear if they really understand what it means. In most of the SMEs the priority is on the quality system which is clearly stipulated in the customer’s requirement when selecting a supplier. This was a customer request in the 90’s, and now it is a reality in all the companies. In the future, we can expect the same adoption of industry 4.0 in manufacturing SMEs from a customer request and it will happen in the next 10 to 20 years or so.

Maturity of Industry 4.0 in SMEs:

During the webinar we discussed the quality system organisation in a typical SME of 50 to 150 people and more than 20 injection moulding machines. There are flows in place, one for the development and the other for production. It takes into account every aspect, from the raw material to the Human Resources training. In the field of medical devices, the traceability is key and every aspect must be recorded. The ERP is today the software where all the data are stored and visualised. MES are not always implemented.


There are still pen and paper for production orders for example. In smaller businesses, a spreadsheet management is often the simplest solution. For companies with a good quality system, the data are available. The foundation is here for the exploitation of the data.  Most of time, the datas are managed locally, a remote solution is used only when multiple sites are in place.


IoT based applications have been deployed in the past for the monitoring of the power consumption. The initial motivation was to split the bill between 2 companies sharing the same building. It was important to make sure that this cost was in “pay per use” since this is one of the largest cost in a production facility. Thanks to a service of the electricity supplier, sensors have been deployed and it has been possible to detect anomalies that were completely under the radars. Every Monday morning there was also a peak in power consumption when all the machines started, that lead to an extra cost for the company. The measurement of this event permitted to take some mitigation measures and only start 50% of the machines and wait for 1 hour before launching all the others. Independently, a leak in the compressed air network was identified for example which lead to huge savings. At the end of the year it was up to 15% of the power consumption that could be saved.


To be honest, this investment wouldn’t have been made with this kind of promise. There is always skepticism among the managers when this kind of value proposition is on the table.


What can be improved

Some online monitoring systems start to be implemented for a 100% inspection of the production. It will help to guarantee that what is delivered is in the specifications. But it will not improve the yield.


In the current situation of the quality system, the data is recorded, it gives a real time visibility, but there is no anticipation and this is not an actionable data. The system is not smart. Some Production monitoring tools gradually implemented like SPC cards, but there is no anticipation. Machine Learning could be considered, some of the latest machine in the market are capable to self-adaptive and tune the 50 injection parameters in real time to guarantee that there is no drift of the final product quality.

In fact Artificial intelligence enters into the manufacturing process with the Machine makers. There is also some kind of transfer in the know-how since they need to understand our job probably as well as us, if not better.

Jacques Weyn

Jacques Weyn
Logo Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials

Jacques Weyn is recognized as an expert in the manufacturing industry. Jacques has led R&D departments and many manufacturing companies.

Jacques was General Manager of PureLab Plastics, manufacturing unit for pipette accessories (medical consumables) for Gilson group, producing millions of plastic tips a day. He was also CEO of Groupe RGF (tecnical plastic parts for medical and industry markets) a 20 M€ turnover company.

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