Industry 4.0 is an opportunity for France to strengthen its industry and make it more competitive and flexible at a time of digital revolution. The aim is to preserve and develop future manufacturing jobs.

Industry 4.0: what is it?



The industrial situation in France is a cause for concern: there is an investment backlog of about €40 billion, the country’s machinery is 10 years older than that of Germany, factories are constantly closing down… The national “Industrie du Futur” programme aims to help every manufacturing company step up the modernisation of its production plant and the transformation of its economic model through digital solutions. Digital technology is in fact at the root of the upheaval in industry. It is hard to imagine such a revolution taking place without the input of Cloud Computing, whether to store data or work together with distant computers, or without the use of SaaS software and Big Data Analytics which improves production through predictive maintenance.

Besides production itself, industry 4.0 also hails a major disruption in the way products are designed and sold, as well as in organisational models and in skill management. It is based on an overall strategy that mobilises operational business lines and support functions at all levels of management.

The challenge today is gradually to negotiate the passage from Usine France (Factory France) to Usine du Futur (Factory of the Future). This means prioritising the modernisation of French production systems in line with strategic criteria such as competitiveness in every industrial sector and the maturity level of technologies.

What exactly is Industry 4.0?

Six basic principles

Factories are virtualised in order to simulate and monitor products, processes and the production environment in 3D.

Systems are interoperable, in other words they have the capacity to communicate and interact with one another.

Decisions are decentralised, which means that cyber-physical systems can make decisions autonomously.

Analyses and decisions are made in real time thanks to continuous, instantaneous communication.

It is service-oriented, with improved maintenance and new service offers.

It is modular, in other words can quickly be adapted to changing demands.

How does it impact the organisation in a company?

Industry 4.0 involves the rollout of new organisational models to help companies increase their flexibility, performance and competitiveness. The impact on work organisational, skill and business-line management, and on management and relationships at work are significant. Here are a few examples:

  • Manufacturing processes are simulated from a product’s design phase through to its technical production and maintenance by operators. This brings considerable improvements in terms of ergonomics, either by shifting difficult tasks to robots, or by changing the work environment.
  • Operators are equipped with connected devices like tablets or augmented-reality glasses. These devices for instance facilitate maintenance and quality control. An operators’ work will involve more and more steering and monitoring, with fewer and fewer manual tasks.
  • Management’s role is reinforced. Decision-making is decentralised along the production line, and steering support tools are developed.
  • The coexistence of people and machines in a factory impacts behaviour. In an environment where robots and systems are increasingly present, the manager plays an essential role in establishing and maintaining a team spirit and efficient communication.
  • Skills evolve as a consequence: from 2D to 3D, the use of connected devices, and decision-making. These changes require training programmes and the creation of expert communities to share best practices.

What does Gfi do?

Getting a 4.0 factory going is a complex process involving several stages as well as project management that mobilises all company resources: production, supply chain, engineering, maintenance, human resources, finance, information systems, etc... Gfi offers companies end-to-end support right from the onset to build a roadmap and apply it to operations, while taking the specificities and requirements of each organisational structure into account.

Our Industry 4.0 assignments mobilise our expertise in digital technologies (Mobility/IoT / Digital Continuity /Gfi Lab), our business knowledge (product/process design (end-to-end PLM), steering and monitoring of the production system, manufacturing operations) and our experience in organisational transformation support.

We take an active part in the Alliance Industrie du Futur for the countrywide rollout of the “Industry du Futur” programme through our involvement in the Syntec Numérique workgroup. Gfi also relies on the Group’s innovation laboratory, Gfi Lab, which is responsible for developing operational solutions equipped with the latest technologies and innovations in terms of use.

Gfi Lab in the service of Industry 4.0

The Group’s innovation laboratory has expertise in the following fields:

  • Mobile computer systems: designing and developing solutions for mobile platforms (smartphones, tablets, etc.), mobile websites, dedicated applications, and rich internet applications.
  • NFC: deploying solutions that make use of near-field contact (NFC) technology like payment, transport, or content access to facilitate use.
  • Machine-to-Machine: devising solutions that rethink and simplify our interaction with an increasingly connected digital world

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