thyssenkrupp presents its new high-speed line

The new line enables " mutualization of processes ", dixit the management. This concept has attracted new customers such as Tesla and Jaguar.  Photo RL/ Pierre HECKLER

The floor is immaculate white. Here, in this part of the factory where the new high-speed line has been installed, the atmosphere is more that of a laboratory than an industrial site. No deafening noise, no puddles of oil, no dust or rust, not even peeling paint on the railings. There are only those robots and their long mechanical arms, those Plexiglas walls and a handful of workers bustling about out front.

A few steps away, the chairs have been arranged facing the lectern. Regional president Jean Rottner is present, as are deputy Brahim Hammouche, departmental councillor and Florange mayor Rémy Dick, regional councillor Rémy Sadocco, sous-préfète Odile Bureau, CEO Sébastien Kuhn... It's a little after 11 h this Friday, thyssenkrupp's " Flex Speed Factory " is about to be inaugurated.

Four times faster cycle times

This new high-speed line is the fruit of collaboration with Ensam (Campus arts et métiers in Metz), as part of a research and innovation project. The line is four times faster, with operating costs halved and shorter time-to-market. Above all, it can be reconfigured to produce other products.

To explain its principles, Emmanuel Nerkowski, Industrial Director, draws a parallel with cutting-edge technologies in the field of medicine. "We are in a global competition to be able to produce innovative products," he says. These products are the steering systems that will equip tomorrow's autonomous vehicles. thyssenkrupp is targeting this buoyant market. The group plans to inject €2.3 million over three years into its " Autonomous Driving "  project: a race for innovation in the fields of artificial intelligence and computer science. For this project, ThyssenKrupp has received a grant of €800 000  as part of the France Relance plan. A sign of support from the French government, at a time when the automotive sector is still struggling, notably due to the shortage of semi-conductors.

Jean Rottner : " Innovating is fundamental "

But this Friday, the Flex Speed Factory was first on the agenda. The President of the Grand Est region praised the technological innovation. The region has injected €1.1 million into the facility, including €651,000 from European Feder funds, out of a total of €8 million, of which €7 million has been spent on equipment. Jean Rottner especially urged SMEs and VSEs to support the recovery, by being more " innovative ", pointing out that " out of 343 000 companies in the Grand Est, only 1 360 do research. There's a job to be had," he insisted. There are jobs to be had at Florange too. The new line has helped to maintain and create " around 70 jobs " on the site. Even so, Sébastien Kuhn made no secret of the "  recruitment difficulties  " currently being experienced. Nor of the drop in orders. A setback to the group's forward march.