20 November 2017

As far as we know, Industry 4.0 can be described as a toolbox full of new technologies with the potential to boost the efficiency and flexibility of plant and Supply Chain operations.                                   These tools range from smart automation (collaborative and self-adaptive robots, 3D vision…) to real time and machine-to-machine communications (IoT, cyber physical systems) and data analytics (off-line and predictive processes).

The disruptive power of these technologies is believed to be strong enough to trigger a fourth industrial revolution, after steam at the end of the 18th century, electricity and mass production at the beginning of the 20th and electronics and IT around the 1970s.

"From conventional to smart factories"

The essence of industry 4.0 can thus be found in the organization of factories.

While a conventional factory can be extremely well optimized in terms of productivity or raw material consumption, it is most of the time a “passive” set of machines and equipment, which need to be set-up for a given batch production. Although it is possible to do this in quite an automated way, it remains mainly a human-driven decision process. However, with Industry 4.0 technologies, production lines become significantly adaptive, capable of responding automatically to a change in demand. This is why they are often referred to as “smart” factories. They are also called “Batch One” factories, to highlight this capacity to adapt to mass customization without increasing inventories.

"Saint-Gobain is active in this field"

This agility and efficiency-boosting combination is what makes Industry 4.0 an ideal solution for all major industrial companies worldwide, like Saint-Gobain. Indeed, Saint-Gobain is active in this field and all Business Units in the Group have defined their implementation strategy, with respect to their global strategy and market.

For us at Saint-Gobain Sekurit, operating in the global and extremely competitive mobility sector, this makes even more sense. Operational Excellence and World Class Manufacturing (WCM) are well established strengths and positive differentiators in Sekurit’s DNA. Extensively developed in all our factories, WCM has given us a strong and solid base from which we intend to further implement Industry 4.0 technologies. The vision we have designed is gradually being implemented with the support of experienced partners.

"At Saint-Gobain Sekurit, we are on our way to Digital Manufacturing"

Different levels have been planned, starting from the basics such as the functions of real-time dashboarding, to complete the full digitalization of our manufacturing activities, including traceability. Our higher levels develop Data Analytics to enhance the knowledge and performance of our processes and prepare shift move towards Product-Centered Manufacturing.

Data Analytics are also typical enablers to better forecast demand, while increased flexibility, supported by self-adaptive robots equipped with advanced vision, and real-time communication between products and machines, all help adapt manufacturing process steps to the product’s precise needs. The long term vision is one of a fully automated and flexible factory, integrated into a digital Supply Chain.

In terms of technology, Artificial Intelligence will clearly play an increasing role in our Operations.

"Organization is key to avoid creating a digital mess"

Digitalization is powerful, but it also requires starting with well-organized processes in order to avoid creating a digital mess.

Here Sekurit clearly has the advantage of having high-performing factories, built on years of WCM involvement and experience. Our pilot plants are leading the change, with one of our most advanced being in Germany, a country where the development of Industry 4.0 is considered a priority. Other important prerequisites are related to the IT infrastructure and the skills and motivation of our teams. All these topics are being looked at very seriously and as we go forward, the learning is constant.

"Tangible opportunities to waylay the fear of change"

There is a large consensus on the benefits of Industry 4.0 and the need to take advantage of these technologies. Of course, no major upheaval or disruption comes without the fear of potential negative effects, particularly the challenge of adapting to a new environment and acquiring new relevant skills. This is the reason why we have developed two programs, “People 2020” and “Academy 4.0”, in our German pilot plant, to gain more insight into managing these changes and show the tangible opportunities”.

Indeed, with industry 4.0, Sekurit will be able to pursue its continuous improvement journey and even step up the pace. The expected benefits are broad and extensive: product quality, competitiveness, new customer services have been targeted, as well as improvements in terms of safety, environment and sustainability. For instance, Industry 4.0 will enable us to further reduce our plants’ energy and water consumption through finer, real-time monitoring, allowing for better responsiveness in case of deviation; at the same time, Data Analytics will help us further optimize our processes, leading to less raw material consumption. This field covers so much more than just paperless factories, and our teams are keener and keener to discover all the possibilities and implement them on their processes.


With Industry 4.0, manufacturing has really entered the 21st century. The list of simultaneous disruptions is long and includes long-term shaping trends such as the shift towards a greener and more collaborative economy, growing urbanization or the transformation of our market from automotive to mobility. As a historical and global actor on the mobility market, Sekurit is quite an agile and adaptable organization, now ready to seize the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0 and serve its customers even better.


Jean-Luc Lesage, CEO Saint-Gobain Sekurit Europe & COO Saint-Gobain Sekurit OEM