Also Factory of the Future winners from the food and pharmaceutical industry

Since 6 February Belgium has ten new companies with a Factory of the Future title. Besides seven companies from technological industries, we also welcome three companies from the food and pharmaceutical sector in the list of Factory of the Future companies. Colruyt Group Fine Food, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Lavetan.

One of the key objectives of Sirris and Agoria is to enhance the contributions of the technological industry to a prosperous and sustainable society. Together with various partners Sirris and Agoria support manufacturing companies to achieve this, for example through the ‘Factory of the Future’ project, in which an award is granted each year to the best students of the class.

Factories of the Future invest in digitisation, smart processes and products and in global production, while also thoughtfully dealing with energy and materials and paying attention to involvement, creativity and autonomy of their employees.

This year the ten companies received the Factory of the Future award from the hands of Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois, including Colruyt Group Fine, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Lavetan.

Colruyt Group Fine Food

Colruyt Group Fine Food is one of the 10 largest food companies in Belgium. They have been working for years on the craftsmanship of some specific food products. These are marketed internally for the stores belonging to Colruyt Group. For the production of cold meats and freshly prepared meals, a completely new production site was built and officially opened in 2017.

Thanks to state-of-the-art machines and automation, the production process is now much more efficient. Extra space was created, which was partly filled in by setting up a line of machines, which takes away many actions and reduces intermediate stock levels. There are also many exclusively PLC-controlled machines to guarantee the quality of the products.

The company went beyond the legal requirements to anticipate future standards. The new building has been designed in a modular way to be multifunctional and the ecological footprint was considered in all processes. The production site also provides its own energy, has a water treatment plant and uses ammonia-based cooling that has no impact on global warming.

The staff was closely involved in the construction of the new factory. A survey was organised, they got the chance to ask questions and always received individual answers. The employees were given the necessary guidance to adapt to the new organisation and technology. This gave them the opportunity to grow and/or to work in another department. The entire conversion was done without redundancies.

Janssen Pharmaceutica

Dr. Paul Janssen founded the company in 1953 to save lives by developing better medicines. Today, Janssen Pharmaceutica, now part of Johnson & Johnson, is one of the most innovative pharmaceutical companies in the world with more than 40,000 employees. The site in Geel, which employs 760 people and runs 300 chemical processes, which is the high-tech production centre, has become the launch and growth site for new important medicines for the global market. The site is also one of the most innovative and successful production centres for active chemicals in the world.

Founder Paul Janssen instilled a culture of innovation and pushing boundaries in the company. In this spirit, Geel is continuing to build the factory of the future. A major investment has been made in recent years with the construction of the new Chemical Development Pilot Plant (CDPP). This ultramodern plant is unique in terms of design, technology and materials. A state-of-the-art machine park facilitates new developments. The goal of efficiency gains and new technologies is delivering results for the patient.

For Janssen, a factory of the future is a hub, an integrated whole in which various parties work together. Cooperation is also important outside your own company: the production process generates various waste streams which you want to make circular as much as possible. To this end, the company works together with partners.


Lavetan is an independent laboratory, specialising in analyses for the three segments of the food industry: the primary sector with a focus on animals, the transformation and distribution sector. The company, based in Turnhout, specialises in microbiological and serological analyses. For chemical analyses, we work with partner laboratories, so that Lavetan can be a one-stop-shopping point for the total package of analyses. It is one of the top players in its niche and performs more than 1 million analyses annually.

The company, founded in 1997, has undergone a strong evolution over the years from a traditional to an industrialised to a digitised lab, from a paper bound to a paperless organisation. Thanks to the digital possibilities, data can very quickly be passed on and made available where it is needed.

During its continuous renewal and expansion, Lavetan looked to the industry as an example of which processes could be digitised fastest and easiest. Robots were integrated into the analysis process, innovative solutions were introduced to increase transparency and traceability. Automation, a new process flow and a modified work organisation also resulted in less waste, a shorter lead time and a better relationship with customers who do not just receive analysis results, but clear information.

Wondering what a Factory of the Future looks like on the inside? From 21 March to 9 June Agoria will again organise a Factory of the Future Roadshow, which will visit 19 of the winners. This roadshow is your chance to see how Factory of the Future winners operate, to connect with them and test your own challenges against their experience. More information is available in our agenda.