The industrial sector is an important asset of the European Union generating growth and employment. According to the European Commission, “a strong industrial base is a prerequisite for the independence, autonomy and prosperity of the EU.” Nevertheless, the EU industry needs to undergo important transformations to meet the environmental goals while remaining globally competitive. In the context of an uncertain future, it has become vital to innovate to meet changing circumstances.
SMEs have traditionally been a significant part of the European manufacturing landscape. In 2020, the European manufacturing sector included more than 2 million enterprises employing nearly 30 million persons. Around 59% of all enterprises within the sector are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These companies generate about 45% of the total added manufacturing value, they are an important pillar of the European economy.
One of the key drivers of the new strategy for the transformation of the European industry is digitalisation. The fourth industrial revolution, also referred to Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing, is the next phase in the digitisation of the manufacturing sector, characterised by the rise of data and connectivity and human-machine interaction. Smart manufacturing also plays a crucial role in promoting environmentally sustainable practices within the industrial sector. Optimising processes and minimising waste through real-time data analysis and predictive maintenance, reduces energy consumption and resource usage.
Closing the SBS Meeting Standards campaign, this conference, moderated by Jenny Baker, will focus on the opportunities and challenges smart manufacturing brings to SMEs and discuss the role of standards in the digitalisation of manufacturing and the adoption of new manufacturing technologies. Through the presentation of SME case studies, the aim is to discuss the policy and legal context, standardisation activities and developments in this area and how they can support the adoption by SMEs of smart manufacturing technologies so that SMEs remain competitive in this area.
The event will be streamed live in English with the possibility of live interpretation in French.
The opening session will discuss the current European industrial policy and the focus on digital and technological innovation as one of the means to gain the EU’s open strategic autonomy. It will discuss how SMEs and standards fit this picture, what policies are in place to help SMEs in their digital and green transformation and what are the links with the EU standardisation policy.
In June 2023, a new Machinery Regulation (2023/1230) was published, replacing the previous Machinery Directive (2006/42). The Machinery Regulation provides the legal framework for all machinery sold in Europe. One of the main drivers for the revision of the Directive was to adapt to new risks linked to emerging digital technologies such as IoT and connected equipment, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous machines or collaborative robots and increase users’ trust in new technologies. This session will address the interplay between the new Regulation and smart manufacturing and standards’ role in this context.
Sectoral Project Manager for machinery, CEN-CENELEC
While SMEs play an essential role in the manufacturing industry, the move towards digitalisation and smart manufacturing technologies brings different challenges to smaller manufacturing businesses in Europe. This panel will shed light on the obstacles faced by manufacturing SMEs in their digital transformation and discuss whether standards can help to address some of these challenges, support the adoption of digital solutions and ultimately enhance the competitive edge of SMEs in the modern digital economy.