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Provan Receives Belgian “Factory of the Future” Award

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Provan, a Belgian supplier specializing in laser and sheet-metal working, welding and assembly, was recently recognized as a “Factory of the Future” as part of that country’s campaign, “Made Different.”

The “Factory of the Future” is a campaign launched by the Belgian government in recognition of the challenges faced by Belgian companies and the need for them to be innovative and future-proof.  The “Made Different” project is driven by Agoria, the Belgian federation for technology and industry and Sirris, the collective center for and by the country’s technological industry. To qualify for the award, a company must demonstrate seven essential transformations including modernization of machines, digitization, staff involvement and ecology.

Provan, one of the first of four companies recognized for the award, focuses on the Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) strategy in everything it does - with the goal of reducing lead times and working with the lowest possible stock levels. Even the introduction of a new operational planning system was designed and almost fully digitized to support QRM.  For Provan’s customers, this means the company can quickly respond to changing market demands with new products and modifications.

As a result of its implementation of QRM, over the last five years Provan has substantially shortened lead times for some of their most important product lines, tripled production and even reduced its ecological impact.

According to Ben Proesmans, Provan’s owner, “On the shop floor, QRM is a combination of two things: smart production, thanks to our innovative software – we are the first company in Belgium to use this system – and the physical visualization of our production activities. As a consequence, our operators are guided by a thoroughly digital system, and thanks to the use of colored flags in the system, they organize their work completely independently. These flags indicate the order of the transport carts and metal parts in the different production steps, so everything can follow one another in rapid succession.  Our products can now be made in batches of 15 sets. As a consequence, the lead time for each set has decreased by a massive 85%, from three-and-a-half to four weeks to just three days. The packing process is now twice as fast and the smooth workflow means we don’t need to stock large quantities of parts anymore, freeing up lots of storage space. But this is just one example where the benefits of QRM are clearly quantified. Thanks to the QRM approach, we are implementing a production methodology that is guaranteed to reduce our total costs in the long run.”

Provan foresees further growth in coming years from increase exports.  In the meantime, it is continuing to invest in people and technology.  In late 2014, the company purchased a leading-edge welding robot and it plans further investments in state-of-the-art technology.  It also intends to increase its workforce in 2015 from 65 to 85 employees.


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