Industry 4.0 can lead to 20-30% productivity gains, allowing developed countries to challenge low-cost ones. La French Fab has built a comprehensive offer – in all pillars of industry 4.0 – to tackle the challenge. Over 800 solution providers (startups, SMEs and multinationals) are committed to spurring productivity growth and enhancing product quality among French industrials. This is how it’s working so far.
France has valuable assets in robotization: 60 R&D centers have activities in robotics and top companies provide technological gems around the globe. For instance, French company Balyo, which provides technology for self-driving forklift trucks, has signed a seven-year contract with US giant Amazon.
Contrary to common belief, automation is unlikely to destroy more jobs than it creates. McKinsey predicts that it could bring additional labor demand of up to 21-33% of the global workforce (up to 890 million jobs) to 2030, more than offsetting the numbers of jobs lost. So, long live French robots!
In the growing metal 3D printing market, France stands out with its top challenger and leading player: Stratasys and 3D Systems. Originally positioned in polymers and ceramic materials, Paris-based SME Prodways launched its first metal machine in 2018. As a result, its revenues grew by 75% that year compared with 2017. The joint venture between multinationals Fives and Michelin Additive Solutions called Addup (specialized in 3D metal printing) also grew from 35 to 350 employees in just three years, with the ambition to reach the top 3 of the market. To strengthen competitive advantages in the field, top academics and large companies (Air Liquide, Areva NP, Dassault Systèmes, EDF, Safran, Vallourec, etc.) have joined forces in the creation of “Additive Factory Hub” in 2017, with a €40m ($44m) pooled budget to work on new 3D process developments.
France can boast success stories in the field of data analytics. Energy specialist Engie has designed Darwin, a remote management system for its own renewable energies. The analysis of data from 1,188 wind turbines, 87 solar parks and 9 hydropower groups provides decision support for performance monitoring and analysis, fault detection and alerts, predictive maintenance and weather-based scheduling of maintenance operations. Created in 2014, FieldBox.ai has developed an AI-trained industrial bot to optimize processes and operate machines. The startup already operates in 4 continents and generates 50% of its revenue abroad.
France has a long track record in advanced simulation. Bordeaux-based company Impression is a true pioneer as it has been providing advanced simulation solutions since 1994. The SME now works for top French multinationals. 80% of its clients stem from the CAC40 index of big corporates: Alstom, EDF, Airbus, Dassault, SNCF, etc.
As in other fields, France benefits from a flourishing ecosystem in the connected things sector: 36 startups are dedicated to providing IoT solutions for Industry 4.0. For example, Hiboo (created in 2016) works with Bouygues Constructions to digitize ground operations. Thanks to a five-year connected object, Hiboo collects data and provides information on equipment activity. It allowed Bouygues Constructions to realize that 4 to 6% of the deployed material on construction site were not used to full capacity.
Theoris, Schneider Electric, Actemium, Robocortex, etc. : numerous companies in France provide AR solutions. Among these, Diota has already drawn attention of top French multinationals – including Renault, Airbus, PSA, Air Liquide, Bouygues Construction and Safran – with its software solutions dedicated to digitize and optimize industrial processes. One concrete example? Through the projection of digital and interactive work instructions, Diota helps Dassault Aviation in the process of mounting-assembly of Rafale fighter jet wings.