BifocAlps Conference: Industry 4.0 by SME: Dynamic, pragmatic and operational

BifocAlps conference, held on 20th June in Bled, Slovenia, showed us successful cases presented by the SMEs which have implemented the I4.0 and what was their journey. It focused on particular challenges and answered specific questions about the I4.0 planning, financing, implementation and next steps by the SMEs. As there is no one single and general approach and solution to the I4.0 implementation, the value of this session and discussion came out of the first hand experiences shared by the companies. The cases were segmented according to the strategic and business expected outcome as a major reason why companies decided to go the I4.0 way.

Technology park Ljubljana was presenting the project BifocAlps, Interreg Alpine space program, with international project partners at the roundtable and the workshop. Roundtable was offering an excellent opportunity to learn about the Industry 4.0, Factories of Future and Smart factories experiences in Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and Slovenia. Together with experts from Spain, Croatia and Poland discussion focused on most challenging topics industry faces as they implement advanced technologies and digitize business processes in order to implement I4.0.

We were discussing about ways, how SMEs can help each other digitalise, what are the best practises, benefits, obstacles and what are possible solutions. Major topics that were addressed:

  • Process optimization; Cost reduction; Efficient planning;
  • Predictive maintenance; Customer insights and engagement;
  • Product customization and customer personalization;
  • From product to service; Total product life cycle management;
  • Energy and resource management;
  • Supply chain optimization and warehousing;
  • Data analytics for better decisions; Going on-line and mobile with offering and services;


How can companies effectively overcome the major challenges implementing the disrupting I4.0? 1. Lack of experts and knowledge; 2. Missing clear ROI and value; 3. Reusable proven good practices; 4. Cyber security and data risks. Are the SMEs the key for a successful Industry 4.0 implementaion?