In conversation with Toon van der Wulp, Managing Partner of WFS PRO, about High-Tech Machinery.
There is hardly a sector as diverse as High-Tech Machinery. This industry revolves around the use of advanced technologies, essentially the development of technology at the highest level. Whether you focus on segments such as semiconductors, food, or other intriguing industries, one thing is certain: this dynamic and innovative environment is filled with possibilities.
It is a broad industry that involves everything related to the production and manufacturing of machines and products. “High-Tech Machinery is a broad term. Many people immediately think of organisations like ASML and Philips, but we [WFS PRO] are particularly active in the supply chain of such large entities,” Toon explains. “For example, CoreDux, one of our clients, is a supplier to ASML. They manufacture, among other things, piping systems specifically for ASML machines. Large organisations like ASML receive various components from the supply chain, add their ‘flavour’, and bring them together into one machine.”
Working in High-Tech Machinery
As Toon mentioned earlier, WFS PRO has clients in the supply chain as well as end customers of the supply chain. Some of our clients in High-Tech Machinery include CoreDux, ASML, Summox, Damen Naval, GEA, Pal-V, Sam XL, Avion, NTS, Prodrive, and more. Within High-Tech Machinery, you should mainly think of roles in the fields of Engineering, System Integration, and Manufacturing.
WFS PRO advocates for the flexible deployment of knowledge and talent across various industries. “Specialists who, for example, work at ASML in High-Tech Machinery, can also work in an environment like Damen Naval in the Marine & Offshore industry. A frigate is essentially a high-tech machine, just one that floats and sails on water,” further explains Toon.
Curious about what else we do? Check out our High-Tech Machinery job vacancies!
Developments in the industry
Drawing on his extensive knowledge and experience, Toon shares the developments he currently observes in the industry. “In the manufacturing environment, you see more and more automation and robotisation; more and more companies are involved in this,” according to Toon. He attributes this development partly to labour market shortages. “The manufacturing sector used to be based on manual labour. Now, more and more companies are fully engaged in mechanising, automating, and ultimately robotising this manual work. So, you really see a development in the manufacturing industry.”
This development is driven, on one hand, by labour market shortages and, on the other hand, by the need to increase efficiency and improve the production process. Toon discusses the impact of this development on the industry: “Such a development naturally has a significant impact on an entire organisation. How do you engineer? What does the supply chain look like? How do you manage your inventory? How do you handle it when suddenly you can increase your production because you create more production capacity? Your suppliers also need to be part of that process.” With automation and robotisation, fewer people are needed to perform more work.
Toon emphasizes that this doesn’t mean all jobs will disappear: “Work is changing as a result of robotics and automation. That doesn’t mean all those people will be unemployed, but they need to be retrained as a different type of employee with different skills. Companies need to deal with that because it’s a big shift.” However, many organisations underestimate the transition to an automated work environment: “What you see in the market is that many companies see it coming but postpone it. Ultimately, they can’t escape it.”
This development has a significant impact on the manufacturing industry: “We need to develop different skills and abilities. If you’ve been doing the same thing for ten years and suddenly have to learn something else because your environment is changing… yes, that has quite an impact. People need to be taken along in this, which is possible, but they need to be open to it.” Of course, an automation and robotisation process is not completed in one day. Companies cannot automate everything overnight; that’s not a realistic scenario. “It takes time, and during the process, the ‘store’ remains open, so you still need regular production. Only there comes a moment when you start scaling that down, and more and more becomes automated.”
Importance of the High-Tech Machinery industry
In High-Tech Machinery, automation and robotisation play a significant role in the labour market, but what is the broader importance of this industry? “In the Netherlands, we consider it important to have a knowledge economy and to export that knowledge to other countries. It is crucial for a country to have companies where knowledge is developed, where there is a constant effort to innovate and gain knowledge, and where you can make a difference globally,” says Toon. He cites ASML as an example; they produce a product that cannot be made as well anywhere else in the world.
“High-Tech Machinery and the developments within this industry are crucial for the development of knowledge and the prosperity of the Netherlands.”