Pushing Technical Boundaries – Our Industry 4.0 & Control Agenda

“To move the world happily forward by providing groundbreaking hightech solutions.”

How does ‘Pushing Technical Boundaries – Industry 4.0 & Control Agenda’ add to AAE’s vision? Our vision directly informs why we want to do the things we do. One of the elements in our  ‘how’ is the strive to realize state-of-the-art capabilities on all core processes. We are working hard to achieve this within our operations department. Our ‘Industry 4.0 & Control’ agenda captures a number of initiatives aimed to elevate our operational and manufacturing processes to a next level.

Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things, digital twins… For AAE, the essence of all these concepts is digitizing and integrating the entire value chain. Thereby enabling new and optimized ways of achieving existing organizational goals (as ‘realizing Industry 4.0’ should not be a goal of itself).
For our operations department these goals are delivering high quality products according to plan, and the ability to show flexibility and responsiveness to changing customer needs. In other words, an agile manufacturing organization that can meet the high demands of our (future) customers.

Digitizing and integrating the entire value chain is of course a broad playing field, even when ‘only’ considering Operations. Hence AAE defined specific focus areas, each of which contain a couple of ongoing projects. 

  1. Automation; the introduction of cobots (polishing and welding cobots) and automated manufacturing logistics (self driving transport vehicles). With the aim to free up our specialists’ time to do specialist work, and increase process stability.
  2. Digital ‘twinning’ of factory & machines; capturing real time operational data from our equipment and the real-time position of our products in the factory. Thereby building a digital operational twin to aid in operational control and decision making.
  3. Digitization of workflows & data; transferring paper-based workflows and data to appropriate software and/or databases, enabling everyone from management to shop-floor to seamlessly access and manipulate a uniform set of (master)data.
  4. Process data collection & analytics; structured collection of manufacturing process data with the analytics tools to allow us to further understand and master our key manufacturing processes and the variation therein. By being able to better control process variation we can assist our customers in achieving higher quality and performance in their parts/products.
  5. Digital operational control; combining the data from the various digital systems (e.g. ERP, the operational digital twin) to support our operational staff with the key metrics and dashboards they need to effectively run operations. As an example, the history of real-time positions of a certain product can be combined with its process steps from ERP to generate an overview of any process flow deviations, and the spread in thorughput times per process step. All without requiring any manual collection or processing of data.

Underlining these five focus area’s are three ‘enabler pillars’. These pilars are foundational elements that we need in order to be successful in our Industry 4.0 & Control efforts.

  1. Culture & Organisation; Promoting innovation, transparency and trust in mindset, communication and leadership. Setting up cross-functional project and pilot teams for rapid and supported implementation.
  2. Collaboration; Joining forces with suppliers, academia and industry bodies in our regional ecosystem. AAE’s participation in ‘Smart Industries Fieldlab – de Peel‘ is a nice example of this.
  3. Technology; Finding and selecting the right, fit for purpose, solutions from the myriad of available technologies.

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed

W. Gibson

With a focused Industry 4.0 & Control agenda, AAE is elevating its operational and manufacturing processes to the next level. High quality, with increased flexibility and a higher level of operational reliability; all enabling us to serve our customers even better going forward. Our push to state-of-the-art operational capabilities get us closer to becoming a true digitally integrated company. And as such we can keep moving the world happily forward.


‘Pushing Technical Boundaries – Our Industry 4.0 & Control Agenda’
by Kurt Wils – Improvement Knight at AAE b.v.


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