Augmented reality, cobotics, geolocalisation, connected tools… We have gone beyond the experimental phase for these cutting edge technologies and now they are being used on a regular basis by industries in Nantes Saint-Nazaire. With major order placers, competitiveness clusters, startups and local authorities, this is fertile ground for anyone wanting to make a success of the 4th industrial revolution.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Airbus, Nantes Saint Nazaire Port, Saunier Duval and Idea are just some of the companies, from an array of business sectors, who are flying the flag of the 4th industrial revolution in Nantes Saint-Nazaire. These visionary entrepreneurs do not hesitate to overhaul their organisations and embrace new technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data, augmented reality, virtual reality, autonomous robots and cobotics. Some of these technologies have already become part of our daily lives and are reaching a level of maturity that make them ripe for use in industry. Other manufacturers are following suit.

Innovative companies serving manufacturers

While these companies thrive, we are also witnessing a flourishing of startups and SMEs bringing advanced expertise and contributing to the emergence of these new technologies.
- A prime example is the very recently created Nantes startup InVirtus, which is incubated at École Centrale. Need to find a tool that has been misplaced in the factory? Then you, too, will see the value of this company's innovative solutions for locating items both within and outside of production plants. Companies such as Airbus, Naval Group and Thalès have already become customers.
– And how about Sogeclair, a Toulouse company operating from Nantes Saint-Nazaire and using augmented reality to make the job of Airbus operators easier by facilitating the drilling of particularly complex fuselage parts.

Manufacturers join forces

In order to venture into this new era on the front foot, manufacturers support each other, showing strength in unity. The EMC2 competitiveness cluster has no fewer than 380 members in Nantes involved in the Spirit 2025 strategic project. The objective is to innovate, ensure clean production and digitise companies while promoting people. An ambitious and comprehensive programme!
In Nantes, the Technocampus Composites works to develop the composite processes of tomorrow while, in Saint-Nazaire, the Technocampus Smart Factory (photo) encourages the everyday use of industrial applications of virtual reality and helps to strengthen ties between the digital sector and manufacturing.

Calls for projects to take the plunge

Manufacturers can apply to support mechanisms for help to launch innovative projects (BPI, regional authorities, EMC2 cluster, European Union, etc.). Support can take the form of funding, infrastructure or expert advice.
Also, do not underestimate the usefulness of calls for projects that can help to increase the pace of innovation by connecting manufacturers with new technologies. The Accès PME (SME Access) mechanism run by the EMC2 cluster relates to projects conducted in the IRT Jules Vernes research centre. It is aimed at SMEs who are not members of the IRT, have in-house R&D departments and budgets of between €50,000 and €2m. Such companies are invited to draw on the expertise and cutting-edge equipment available at IRT Jules Verne.

Another initiative: Plug IN. Led by the EMC2 cluster, this call for projects aims to foster collaboration between companies from the manufacturing and digital sectors. To take part, a company must have a production plant in Nantes Saint-Nazaire and be willing to commit to an open innovation process. Once selected, digital and manufacturing companies form duos that work together on a collaborative basis. The fourth edition of this scheme is in progress.