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The manufacturing industry expects better digital services from the government

by News Room
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Industry still wants to automate processes; for example by managing the administration online. But many manufacturing companies are experiencing development in this area because governments have not sufficiently developed their digital services.

This is according to a survey conducted by OnePoll for Reichelt Elektronik, one of Europe’s largest online distributors of electronics and IT technology, headquartered in Sande, Germany. In March 2024, 250 technical decision makers from the manufacturing industry in the Netherlands, Italy and France participated in the survey. In Germany, five hundred decision-makers were asked for their opinion. The respondents come from suppliers of aerospace, automotive, textile, equipment components, production and manufacturing, electronic components, transportation and logistics, energy suppliers and the engineering industry.

Positive impact

82 percent of Dutch respondents believe that digitalization has a positive effect on their company. This allows them to work more efficiently and save costs (53 percent). Speeding up processes and workflows (52 percent) and increasing productivity (39 percent) are also often cited as reasons for automation. The digitization of administrative tasks (75 percent) and the use of cloud-based Office applications (75 percent) are valued. It seems that less paper is needed in the office.

The focus is on (administrative) processes (46 percent), less on, for example, the use of artificial intelligence or digital twins in product design and maintenance. However, 38 percent see digitization as an opportunity to achieve proactive maintenance. Production automation is in third place with a share of 37 percent.

When it comes to AI, 26 percent find the use of such tools useful, 36 percent find it somewhat useful, 20 percent not very useful, 5 percent do not find them useful, and 12 percent say they do not use AI tools. Only 28 percent believe that artificial intelligence projects should be started. In Germany, the percentage is 44, in France 30 and in Italy 34. Respondents were not asked their opinion on the use of digital twins.

Looking at SMEs, the Netherlands ranks third, well above the European average, and our country is only above Finland and Denmark.

The majority of companies (81 percent) measure the success of digitalization with precise metrics, such as time to market, reduction of errors, material savings and increase in profit. 41 percent Set target values ​​for starting a new digitization project. Most companies have a clear goal in mind, what they want to achieve with digitalization.

Desi

A positive attitude can be seen in the EU-wide digitization index Dese (Digital Economy and Society Index). Looking at SMEs, the Netherlands is in third place here, well above the European average, and our country is only above Finland and Denmark. When asked which countries would score best, respondents suggested the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. That seems to be correct, except that Germany, which ranks thirteenth in the index, is not doing so well. France is below the European average.

By the way, the Desi site has many interesting characters. This applies to the entire population, not just the manufacturing industry that OnePoll studied.

Internet connection

Digitization without fast (internet) connections will not take the organization further. That’s why OnePoll specifically asked about this. 78 percent of Dutch respondents seem to be satisfied with the speed and stability of the connection. At the same time, almost half (44 percent) believe that their company has a weaker connection than would be expected from the current infrastructure.

Overall, 41 percent of Dutch respondents complain about internet outages occurring at least once a week. “In that sense, it seems almost paradoxical that people are so satisfied with their Internet connection,” comments Reichelt Elektronik. The figures on this topic are comparable in the other countries studied.

Obstacles

It was asked which obstacles should be overcome in order to get more benefits from digitization. A key success factor is finding ways to attract and retain new employees with digital skills (41 percent) and a strategic approach to digitization projects to better integrate them into the company’s workflow (40 percent). The shortage of skilled workers is a particular problem for many companies. Companies see workforce improvement (32 percent) and smarter tools that can fill knowledge gaps (29 percent) as the most promising approaches to solving this problem. Another 25 percent also mention increasing digitization training in schools as a solution.

20 percent also believe that it should be easier for knowledge immigrants to enter the country. In Germany, France and Italy, the number is 19, 19 and 15. From now on, it would also make it easier for refugees to find work. In the Netherlands and Italy, 15 percent think so; In Germany this is 18 percent and in France 16 percent.

Another solution is to make remote work even more possible so that the company attracts more people to work there; 22 percent in the Netherlands, 20 percent in other countries.

Trust the policy

They were also asked about their confidence that politicians would remove certain barriers. Such as the expansion of fiber optic networks in the country; In the Netherlands, 30 percent trust this, in Germany 23 percent, in France 32 percent and in Italy 19 percent.

In the Netherlands, 32% seem to have little confidence that politicians will reduce the administrative burden; In Germany it is 27 percent, in France 24 percent and in Italy 25 percent.

Comments from Thomas Krusen, Product Manager at Reichelt Elektonik: “We are in the middle of a big phase of change. Faced with challenges, companies do their best under conditions that are not always ideal. However, we must not lean back too much. If the Netherlands wants to remain a digital industrial region, everyone must join forces; both politics and business .

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