The 'Factory of the Future' awards were presented on 23 February in Flanders and Wallonia. In this series of articles, we will meet the various winners and outline why they deserved their award! We are continuing this series with Agoria member Delhez Tôlerie, which the panel praised for its investment policy and the strengthening of its digitalisation efforts.
As part of Digital Wallonia's Industry of the Future project, the Made Different Digital Wallonia support programme for manufacturing companies has named Factories of the Future and Ambassadors. DELHEZ Tôlerie is one of the Factory of the Future 2021 winners.
A family company making many investments
DELHEZ Tôlerie is a family business that has been specialising in sheet metal and tube machining for over 20 years. Its policy of constant investment over the last few years has enabled the company to have a fleet of state-of-the-art machining equipment for materials such as steel, stainless steel and aluminium.
The team of 43 employees, experts in their trade and involved in the company, enables the company to produce unique or mass-produced custom-made, high-quality items for their customers (robotics and machine design, pharmaceutical industry, or the building sector).
Why the "Factory of the Future" designation?
"We started the FoF designation process first of all in order to recognize the efforts made by our teams and to thank them for their daily involvement in the smooth running of the company" explained Christophe Delhez, co-CEO who shares management duties with his brother Stephan Delhez.
Furthermore, the company hopes that the experts' observations and the exchanges between FoF will enable them to re-examine their own processes and identify courses of action to achieve new objectives of excellence and improvement.
But before reaching that stage, the thinking matured: everything starts from the observation that it is essential for companies such as Delhez Tôlerie to strengthen the digitalisation of their processes. Given the increase in their turnover over the last few years, it was essential to improve the efficiency of the processing and production of customer orders in order to maintain the high quality of the items leaving their workshops.
Christophe Delhez added: "The contributions made by the consultants (in particular Agoria, Sirris and pôle Mecatech) have enabled us to take an outside look at our operating methods and to identify numerous areas for improvement".
Stephan & Christophe Delhez
"Once the objectives had been set, the remaining steps involved detailing the different stages at all levels and motivating and involving our employees to make them stakeholders in our commitment to the seven transformations of a company of the future".
For DELHEZ Tôlerie, becoming a "Factory Of The Future" is not an end in itself. They have made continuous improvement the leitmotif of their approach, which according to them ensures that tomorrow, they will do even better.
A digital transformation based on two pillars
The digital transformation of DELHEZ Tôlerie is currently based on two main pillars:
- tailor-made production management software,
- a better use of the digital data present in the company, both in the various computer systems used and in the planned installation of sensors.
Installing computer equipment (PC or smartphone) at each workstation is therefore only the tip of the iceberg. The continuous improvement of IT systems and the analysis of the data collected make it possible to challenge and improve their processes.
The co-CEO of Delhez Tôlerie provides further clarifications: "Over the next 10 years, we hope to lighten the repetitive or heavy work carried out by our teams so that they can concentrate on their high added value tasks. In particular, this may involve the acquisition of production support such as cobots, robots or AGVs".
The "Factory of the Future" designation is not intended just for large companies. It is above all a state of mind and a desire for improvement from both management and workers alike.
Christophe Delhez offers a final piece of advice: "Conducting a digital transformation takes time and energy. We believe that it is crucial to first clearly determine the objectives to be achieved and the means to achieve them, if necessary in intermediate stages, to involve the teams from the start and to celebrate each of our small or large successes".
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