On November 29, in the Sheraton Warsaw Hotel, we hosted the Top Industry Summit conference – a continuation of the prestigious “Chemical Industry Summit & Awards Gala”.
This year’s forum was devoted to the challenges created by the ongoing fourth industrial revolution. We heard forecasts concerning the latest trends and innovations in the chemical and automotive sectors as well in industry in general. The topics discussed included issues associated with smart factories and innovative technologies saving money for business. The goal of the conference was to show how individual sectors change to join the leaders of revolution 4.0.
This year’s edition of “Top Industry Summit” was opened by a speech of dr Oktawian Makowski, Project Coordinator at the National Center for Research and Development (NCRD), concerning the programs offered by the Center to scientists and entrepreneurs. He talked about the main beneficiaries of project funding and dedicated programs for the chemical industry, such as INNOCHEM, RANB, Fast Track (Szybka Ścieżk), or Application Projects (Projekty Aplikacyjne).
The role of R&D in the implementation of innovations
The conclusions of the NCRD representative’s speech set the tone for the entire debate. The discussion in the opening panel, entitled “Chemicals 4.0”, was moderated by Jerzy Polaczek, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the “Przemyłs Chemiczny” magazine. “The fourth industrial revolution is the digitization of social life and industrial processes” – said Jerzy Polaczek, who asked the speakers, among others, whether the Polish chemical industry is ready for the changes caused by digital transformation and the challenges it will have to face. Grzegorz Czul, CEO of Fluor S.A., referred to relationships with investors and engineering companies. “Innovations are associated with higher costs. From the point of view of investors, there is the dilemma of whether it is better to incur costs in exchange for technological development or maybe to maintain well-proven components and systems. The implementation of every innovative idea is associated with significant risk the Polish investors are not willing to take” – said the President of Fluor. Andrzej Krueger, Director of the Institute of Heavy Organic Synthesis “Blachownia”, referred to the presentation of dr Oktawian Makowski, emphasizing the importance of the NCRD as the largest institution supporting R&D actions and actively participating in the creation of new technologies. He was, however, of the opinion that the agency exhibits an overly bureaucratic attitude towards entrepreneurs, who need clearly defined rules and reduced formal requirements. Maciej Lubomski, Waterproofing Division Director at the Selena Group, emphasized the key importance of creating an ecosystem of cooperation between R&D departments, which possess huge competences, the market, and the end-users of products. Oktawian Makowski continued on the NCRD and pointed out that the role of the agency is not to invest in specific technological solutions, but to support scientific and engineering research aimed at the implementation of products and projects. Artur Kucia, Director of Strategic Client Office, Mining and Heavy Industry, PKO Bank Polski, said that from a bank’s perspective it is crucial that the supported projects provide stable and solid growth to the entities that implement them. In his summary, Jerzy Polaczek emphasized that the scientists are aware of the approaching revolution and industry is trying to use the available scientific and technological solutions. Investors, on the other hand, need to be convinced that they should modernize their projects despite the associated risk.
The next speaker of the conference was Dariusz Downer, Coordinator of the Industry 4.0 project at the Robert Bosch brake system factory in Mirków near Wroclaw, who presented practical applications of RFID in supply chain optimization, setting the stage for another discussion panel.
Smart Factory solutions
After the case study presented by Dariusz Downer, the speakers of the second discussion panel, moderated by Michał Gawrysiak, Manager of PwC, were invited to the stage. The main topic of the discussion were solutions for Smart Factories. One of the participants was Michał Ziajowski – Chief Executive Officer of Precia Molen, who emphasized that a company acting in the spirit of the fourth industrial revolution needs to immediately react to market changes – changes concerning suppliers and, most importantly, its customers. He emphasized that sooner or later the revolution will affect everyone. This opinion was shared by Mariusz Grochowski, Member of the Management Board of ERBUD Industry, who expressed his concern about the widespread rule “refurbish only when broken”. He pointed out that Polish entrepreneurs are not far-sighted. They are afraid of new solutions, which are not implemented due to internal organizational barriers. This issue was also discussed by Jarosław Michniuk, President of Boryszew. He admitted that Polish entrepreneurs are still not convinced about investing in smart factories, but at point they will have no other option if they want to survive. There were also questions about the financing of modern factories. The answer was given by Łukasz Jasiński, Director, Deputy Head of Structured Finance at BGK. He confirmed that there is a lot of funding available for such projects. There are adequate instruments and products on the market (e.g. technology loans) providing financial liquidity to the entities headed in this direction. One of the major challenges associated with the implementation of smart factories is the human factor and the required education.
It is a comprehensive process, including trainings for employees, customers, and suppliers. Banks also need to be educated in this area to understand the results the financed undertakings can achieve. The topic of the needs of customers was once again taken up by Jean-Andre Barbosa, Vice President of the Management Board of Future Pipe Industries. He clearly emphasized that the needs of consumers have changed – everyone now expects tailored products, and a modern company should not wonder whether to adjust to these changes, but how to do that quickly and efficiently. The panel was summarized in the following way: a revolution is taking place before our eyes – we can either be a part of it or be left behind. There are no financial barriers preventing us from implementing the strategy of modern factories. The challenge is to change the mentality of people, switch from the traditional mode of operation towards supervision and control, which will require the involvement and education of employees, customers, and suppliers.
What are the factors hindering and facilitating the development of the automotive industry?
The third panel of the conference, devoted to the development of the automotive industry, was moderated by prof. Andrzej Kolasa, Dean of the Faculty of Production Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology. The main topics discussed during the panel included the future of the sector, development of electromobility, and the influence of robotization and automation on the production process. Roman Kantorski, President of the Polish Automotive Chamber, opened the panel with an optimistic statement that the Polish automotive sector is developing very well. The main aspects of its success are the high quality of production in the Polish factories of global automotive concerns and the excellent management staff. Its primary problem, on the other hand, is the lack of qualified workforce. Piotr Stański, Managing Director at MAN Truck, shared this opinion and emphasized that some jobs are gradually becoming endangered. This includes truck drivers, whose numbers on the market are still insufficient, which is a significant problem for producers.
Andrzej Szałek, Toyota Motor Poland, asserted that the implementation of innovations to production is very important as it unburdens employees and reduces production costs, while computers are quicker and more precise at certain tasks. He emphasized, however, that the human factor cannot be eliminated from production and people are still going to play the main role. According to Krzysztof Biernat, Coordinator of the Polish Technology Platform for Biofuels at the Automotive Industry Institute, we are now facing a transformation in the source of drive energy and trying to reduce emissions as much as possible. He pointed out, however, that fuel companies still have nothing to be afraid of despite the development of alternative drives. Adam Holewa, Technical Managing Director at SITECH, talked about trends and new production capabilities. “Robotization of production processes is a discernible change implemented by production companies. Another visible trend is virtual reality, supporting manual processes requiring hands-on experience. The use of unmanned forklifts is also becoming more and more frequent in industry” – the Director said.
The panel was concluded with a speech of Luiza Wójtowicz-Waga, trainer and teacher of English, who posited that hard data insufficient in a world of social and cultural skills.
“Successful Industry 4.0 – Business Models”
The last panel was opened by Mieczysław Starkowski, editor of the IT Reseller monthly, who greeted the quests wearing an “intelligent helmet” and stated that in the modern times everything is “intelligent”. In order to make the discussion more vivid, he made a provocative statement that factories of the future will have only two employees – a dog guarding the factory and a person feeding the dog. This was the beginning of a discussion on the vision of Industry 4.0. It started with a statement by Ryszard Gongor, Member of the Management Board of GEDIA Poland, that industrial revolution 4.0 is mainly the domain of Europe and Customers will be the driving force behind the changes. They are the ones setting the path to the future. Dr hab. inż. Jacek Reiner, professor at the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Technologies joined the discussion. He was skeptical about the statement of Mieczysław Starkowski and emphasized that the lifespan of electronic devices is shortening. They will not be repaired, but replaced, so the human factor will still be of key importance. Another issue touched upon by the moderator was the participation of artificial intelligence in business. Artur Pollak, CEO of APA Group, also referred to this topic, stating that AI is already around us, but sometimes were not even aware of it. He also talked about the very process of the ongoing revolution 4.0, which in Poland is not as fast as, for example, on western markets, which results from the lack of brave managers who are not afraid of the associated risks. Professor Jacek Reiner added that we will not be able to gather and analyze Big Data without the help of artificial intelligence. He also explicitly stated that in the age of customer focus, we should not forget about the needs of employees to ensure company stability and staff loyalty. Michał Sieczko, Senior Manager of the Department of Professional Services at Canon Polska, pointed to the problem of technological stratification. We need to effectively process information and store it thoughtfully. The omnipresence of data is our risk. Jacek Pogonowski, President of the Management Board of Konsalnet Holding, joined the discussion on security. He pointed to the basic aspects of digital and physical security. It all depends on the amount of money that we want to spend, but we cannot fully prevent all unexpected occurrences. Our focus should be – less people and more technology.
TOP INDUSTRY DIAMONDS IN THE BEST HANDS
We had an exciting evening during which we honored entities with exceptional achievements in the chemical, automotive, production, and IT industries. During the Top Industry Diamonds Gala we chose the companies which clearly managed to adapt to the ideas of the fourth industrial revolution.
Krzysztof Tchórzewski, Minister of Energy, was a special guest of the Ceremony and honored us with a short speech in which he emphasized that the Polish energy industry is doing great.
This year the Competition Jury, chaired by prof. Michał Kleiber, chose winners in 8 categories:
SPECIAL AWARD – MERITED FOR INDUSTRY
Minister of Energy, Ministry of Energy
INVESTMENT OF THE YEAR
PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
Solaris Bus & Coach for Solaris Urbino 12 electric
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Mikołaj Placek, CEO of Oknoplast
CEO OF THE YEAR
Jens Ocksen, CEO of Volkswagen Poznań
Wiesław Hałucha, CEO of Alwernia as Leader of Development
FINANCING ENTITY OF THE YEAR
PKO Bank Polski
LEGAL ADVISOR OF THE YEAR
START-UP OF THE YEAR
COMPANY OF THE YEAR
SPECIAL AWARD – SUSTAINABILITY LEADER OF THE YEAR
Organizer: Executive Club
Honorary Patronage: Polish Economic Chamber of Electrotechnics, Automotive Industry Institute, Polish Automotive Chamber, Polish Investment and Trade Agency
Main Partner: Audi, PKO Bank Polski
Professional Partner: Microstrategy
Partners: Algotech, Alwernia, APA Group, Autoland, BASF Polska, Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, Bosch, Canon, Cigno Consulting, Fluor, Future Pipe Industries, Empik School, Profi-Lingua, Nord Partner, Oknoplast, Pfizer, Precia Molen, Vivenge
Gala Partners: Erbud, Erbud Industry
Media Patronage: Wirtualna Polska, Newseria, Rynek Inwestycji, Polski Przemysł, Portal Przemysłowy, Logistyczny.com, Top Logistyk, Business & Prestige, Przemysł Chemiczny, Reporter Chemiczny, Szef Utrzymania Ruchu, Nowoczesny Warsztat, warsztat.pl, logistyka.net.pl, Magazyn Fleet, Fleet.com.pl, automatykaonline.pl, Automatyka, Chemia i Biznes, Inżynieria & Utrzymanie ruchu, Control Engineering, Metale.org, Narzędziownia.org, Tworzywa.org, Q business, Law Business Quality, Polska the Times, Poland Today, Warsaw Business Journal