Digitalisation, cybersecurity and a technological development that does not lose sight of people, who are essential for the future of the industry.
• More than 40 companies and prominent representatives of the Basque business community yesterday addressed the challenges of the industrial sector at the Think Future Industry conference, organised by the IKERLAN technology centre.
• The event, held at the headquarters of the organisation, was attended by the Basque Government's Deputy Minister for Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness, Estíbaliz Hernáez.
• Companies such as CAF, Orona, GH Cranes and LKS Next closed the conference with a round table session.
Arrasate-Mondragón, 11 October 2019.- A commitment to innovation, investment in R&D, strengthening cybersecurity, moving in step with digitalisation, promoting specialisation, offering services adapted to the needs of industry and strengthening alliances, without ever losing sight of the fact that technological progress must be ethical and people-oriented. These are some of the main factors to successfully face the challenges of the industry of the future, identified by prominent representatives of the Basque industrial community during the Think Future Industry conference, held yesterday at the IKERLAN technology centre.
The event, in which more than 40 Basque companies, researchers and institutional representatives participated, was an opportunity to exchange points of view on the challenges of industry in the coming years, the role that technology will play and the challenges related to attracting and training talent.
The session began with an address from the president of IKERLAN, José María Balzategi, who reviewed the main milestones that have marked the 45 year history of the technology centre.
"The history of IKERLAN is a lesson in cooperation, sharing and generating opportunities in the face of needs and challenges. IKERLAN was established to act as an important transformation tool at the service of companies" explained Balzategi.
The Basque Government's Deputy Minister for Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness, Estíbaliz Hernáez, then took the floor. She referred to some of the elements of instability at both an international and national level that could have a negative impact on the performance of the Basque economy.
However, Hernáez stressed the importance of strengthening the commitment to digitalisation, innovation, the creation of technology-based companies to boost employment, the preparation of SMEs, which she described as the "main players" of the fourth industrial revolution, the search for excellence, proximity to the market and specialisation.
"We would appeal for realism in which prudence is always a wise counsel, but in which curbing investment in innovation or new projects would be lethal for the economic and social development of the Basque Country," said the Deputy Minister.
Meanwhile, the General Manager of IKERLAN, Marcelino Caballero, presented the IKERLAN model, which focuses on the transfer of advanced technologies to companies and in which people are a fundamental cornerstone.
"The transfer of technology to companies represents 60% of our work and is our main distinguishing feature with respect to other centres and members of the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network", said Caballero, who defined the organisation as a reality that is "open, dynamic and at the service of companies".
The vision of the specialists
In the most technological session of the day, dedicated to sharing the vision of the specialists on the technologies that will mark the future, the person in charge of the cybersecurity area of IKERLAN, Salvador Trujillo, guaranteeing the protection and security, not only of the devices and systems, but also of the know how of the companies, and affirmed that this is an area that already acts as an entry barrier in some markets.
In his opinion, the future "one way or another will be digital" and there would not be any non-digitalised industrial products. In addition, he gave several examples of how the penetration of digital technologies is causing an evolution in the business model of the industry, which is changing from manufacturing products to offering services.
The expert emphasised the importance of the ethical factor in ensuring that digital technology "helps people" and contributes to living in a "better world".
The researcher Luis Mir, in charge of the Power Electronics area, pointed out that the huge technological advances also represent a social, cultural and lifestyle revolution, and focused on the automotive industry as one of the sectors undergoing a major transformation.
"The vehicle of the future will have to be clean, safe and interconnected," said Mir, who referred to the development of silicon carbide semiconductors, in which IKERLAN is a leader, and gallium nitride as enabling technologies that will make it possible to generate "smaller, lighter and more efficient" systems.
"We will have to forget about cars and think about mobility" said the expert, who pointed out that it is crucial to be technologically prepared so as not to lose touch with the demands of the future.
The head of the Control, Monitoring and O & M Technologies team at the technology centre, Aron Pujana, wished to emphasise that all the revolutions experienced by the industry have “economic drivers that propel that change" and he asserted that the industry 4.0 course requires the development of many different technologies, so collaboration between companies and technology centres is key.
The specialist highlighted the importance of offering customised solutions adapted to customers' needs, and foresaw a future that would involve being able to "industrialise Industry 4.0" in order to be able to market pilot experiments, commit to automation, virtualisation, strengthening the reliability and symbiosis between the IT and OT departments.
During the session, there was also the opportunity to address the relevance of the new professional profiles and the training and development of human capital. IKERLAN's Personnel Director, Ion Etxeberria, was tasked with addressing the challenges of talent in the technological field.
The day ended with a round table discussion involving CAF's Director of Business Development and Technology, Iosu Ibarbia, Orona's Corporate Director of Technological Innovation, José Miguel Lazkanotegi, the General Manager of LKS Next, Elena Zárraga, and the R&D Director of Industrias Electromecánicas GH Cranes, Pablo Pedrós.
The experts deliberated on the main needs that would arise in the coming years in industry.
In addition to the above-mentioned companies, the conference was attended by representatives of companies and organisations from the Basque industrial community such as the Fagor Group, the Ulma Group, Ikusi, ABC Compressors, Ampo, Dibal, Maier and Ikor, as well as representatives from the SPRI Group, the BRTA scientific and technological consortium, AFM and other clusters.
The Think Future Industry event is part of IKERLAN's commitment to generate scientific and technological knowledge, stimulate debate, encourage continuous training of human capital, promote collaboration and develop technological solutions with high added value to meet the needs of companies.
IKERLAN is a leading centre in technology transfer and in the contribution of competitive value to the company due, among other things, to the specialisation of its researchers. It offers comprehensive solutions that combine different technological fields into three large areas: Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT), Energy and Power Electronics and Advanced Manufacturing. In 2017, IKERLAN obtained the certification, via AENOR, for the integrated management system (UNE-EN ISO 9001:2015 and UNE 166002:2014), which recognises the excellence of the centre in the field of R&D&I. Currently, it has a workforce of around 300 employees.