What are the challenges for the industry in 2023?30 January 2023
Product/process competitiveness, profitability and skills: the 2023 challenges for industry as seen by Olivier Durteste
While the industrial sector is going through a very particular period between doubts in the face of all the current uncertainties and hopes for a successful transition thanks to innovations and political will, DiagRAMS went to meet Olivier Durteste, Managing Director of UIMM Udimetal. A look back at 2022 and a focus on 2023.
The year 2022 will have been marked by a significant increase in the cost of energy. How is the industry coping?
Olivier Durteste - We have seen a 3.2% increase in energy costs, which will continue in 2023. Several solutions exist to deal with this, such as modifying its internal organisation by adjusting working hours or increasing its production to ensure a necessary margin. I think above all that the question of investments is essential to reduce energy consumption in the long term, but also on the efficiency of its production tool and the human skills to be able to control them. All this will have an impact on the business models of companies which will have to rethink their strategy.
Precisely, in terms of strategy, what are the orientations for 2023?
O. D. - Industrial companies are sailing in troubled waters with constantly changing winds. This is why offers such as DiagRAMS are particularly relevant, as they allow you to have control over your production tool and to have all the information you need to make factual decisions and intervene at the right time. In industrial maintenance, expenditure lines are shifting from breakdown repairs to productivity improvements, with equipment utilisation rates often approaching 98%. As far as entrepreneurs are concerned, we are currently experiencing a certain number of handovers in which we now find more engineers or commercial profiles at the head of companies, and we feel an evolution that highlights the need for skills around a business project, with values and meaning at stake.
How can technology and innovation drive this evolution in the years to come?
O.D. - Analysing the sensors on your machines allows you to better understand and control them, thus increasing their efficiency and sustainability. This is an essential point for developing competitiveness, particularly in the face of Indian or Chinese manufacturers who do not have the same wage or production tax constraints. This makes it possible to produce more, better and cheaper with a quality corresponding to the customer's needs. Companies have really understood that investment in new technologies will enable them to increase their competitiveness. This is no longer an issue, especially as robotics is now present in many SMEs and artificial intelligence is starting to be deployed.
Can innovation also improve the attractiveness of the sector?
O.D. - Indeed, despite slightly higher salaries than other sectors and interesting career development opportunities, the sector is struggling to attract young and not so young people because of its still outdated image. That is why we are intensifying our efforts to change this image, for example with mobilefactory 4.0 opened in March 2022which made it possible to meet 15,000 people, as well as factory visits and a partnership with the Region and the Rectorate. Our efforts are paying off with a 25% increase in the number of apprentices in the sector.
What are the other challenges facing the sector?
O.D. - A major issue is the recruitment of skills, with historical bases such as mechanics and electronics, but now with a digital component due to the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence in the context of the industry of the future. The profile of a maintenance worker is particularly sought after, it includes an operational part and a control part. I also think that there is a strong potential in our territory that is not yet sufficiently exploited: the link between the worlds of research, training and business. The history of DiagRAMS is, however, a good example of this and enables the industrial world to evolve significantly, to develop innovation.
About UIMM Udimetal
The professional union for metallurgy in Hauts-de-France federates numerous sectors, from the mechanical, automotive and aeronautical industries to the steel industry and the electrical and electronic components and equipment industries. It brings together 400 members and around 28,000 employees to defend and support the development of the sector, particularly in terms of labour and social rights.