Geared up at ‘Emerging Cities & 4IR’ Bydgoszcz

Industry 4.0 experts, city representatives and HR leaders came together for the first ‘Emerging Cities & 4IR’ conference in Bydgoszcz to discuss how the tech revolution will affect businesses, the workforce, and Polish cities.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived but fear not ‒ humans will not be taken over by robots. In fact, the consensus of the experts present was that workers will long be highly regarded as valuable assets to a company. The conference provided a look at how businesses and midsize cities like Bydgoszcz are utilising the technology to compete with larger players and connect with international markets, while also improving the quality of life of residents and attracting talent to emerging cities in Poland.

As tempting as it is to jump headfirst into replacing traditional processes with upgraded robots, it’s vital to stop and think about the best way to utilise the new technology that’s now available. Alec McCullie, Head of IoT & Industry 4.0 at Atos (UK), said that he urges companies to start by outlining their business objectives and finding ways to measure and reduce costs. “What are you trying to do with your digital transformation programme? What is the business problem that you want to address? Once you look internally at what you’re trying to achieve, then it’s just a question of choosing the right technology to fit that model,” said McCullie.

There is still much to be done in understanding and integrating Industry 4.0 across sectors, but opening up the dialogue is a step in the right direction. This platform for discussion was initiated by Poland Today in partnership with Bydgoszcz and the Bydgoska Agencja Rozwoju Regionalnego (Bydgoszcz Regional Development Agency) and was made possible thanks to the patrons, speakers and guests, who actively participated in the exchange of experience and ideas. Many thanks to:

Partners: City of Bydgoszcz, Bydgoszcz Regional Development Agency

Patrons: European Funds, Republic of Poland, Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region, European Union

The one day conference was packed with presentations from tech industry experts and a case study on how Bydgoszcz is embracing the new revolution, as well as panel discussions on best practices when it comes to helping local businesses grow, and breakout sessions which allowed participants to share their knowledge and ask questions.

Here is what the experts had to say:

I don’t really see Industry 4.0 as a thing. It’s an idea, a concept, a convergence of many different types of technology that really has one goal – and that’s to help organisations accelerate and become more efficient. It’s not actually about technology. It’s really fundamentally about two things: better processes and better decisions.

– Alec McCullie, Head of IoT & Industry 4.0 at Atos (UK)

My message to emerging cities: don’t just import the technology of today but invest in people to create and maximise the technology of the future.

-Elwira Justyna Pyk, Director of Business Process Automation (RPA), Postgraduate Studies at Kozminski University

Honorata, the robot worker, can process 2000 invoices nearly three times faster than any other employee, and she never takes sick leave or vacations and delivers ROI to her employer within a month.

-Michał Wilczyński, Key Account Manager Robotic Process Automation, PIRXON

Factory workers look very different these days. No more grease-smeared overalls. They’re dressed in white aprons holding smart devices.

-Edyta Wiwatowska, President, Bydgoszcz Regional Development Agency

What’s behind Bydgoszcz’s success? Residents have a good quality of life and have an opportunity to build businesses. It’s a nice place to live and educate children.

-Dariusz Mikołajewski, Director, Centre for Technology Transfer and Innovation, Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz

There are already 20,000 robots in operation around Poland (42 robots per 20,000 people) and this figure is set to grow exponentially. This means that we will also require more operators, but instead of assigning engineers the task, factory workers should be upskilled to operate the robots. This would allow engineers to focus on R&D.

-Paweł Lulewicz, Vice President, Pomeranian Special Economic Zone

We might be talking about robots, but it’s the humans here in Bydgoszcz, the efficient and responsive local authorities, that make the city an attractive place to invest.

-Andrzej Rosiński, President of the Board, Waimea Holding

In the Industry 4.0 era, it’s nice to be a human. Now we can focus on creativity and other human traits that cannot be replicated by machines.

-Ewa Stelmasiak, wellbeing thought leader, founder and owner of The Wellness Institute

Factories and warehouses – especially those with automated operations – stand to benefit as 5G is a faster and more reliable standard than 4G when responding to heavy network loading, not to mention more secure than WIFI. 

-Konrad Dobrzyniecki, Senior Project Manager & 5G expert, Orange Polska

Big warehouse tenants in retail are here in Bydgoszcz due to the growth of their respective networks. Generally, they don’t want to be too far east. So they focus on cities like Poznań and Wrocław, but wages are increasing in those areas and therefore cities like Bydgoszcz may become a more attractive investment option.

-Tomasz Mika, Head of Industrial, JLL Poland

Panattoni Europe first came to Bydgoszcz five years ago and we’re currently developing a second logistics park here. We see Bydgoszcz as a very good market for industry and logistics and I hope we will continue to develop more locations for our future clients here.

-Dorota Jagodzińska, Managing Director, Panattoni Europe

From the HR perspective, we are waiting for this 5G technology because many recruitment processes are carried out using technology. The speed in which we process job applications and reach out to potential candidates really matters.

-Eliza Nowak, Manager, Randstad (pictured centre)

Despite living in this tech-age, humans are irreplaceable because they are valuable assets to a company, so there’s an increasing focus on employee well-being.

-Artur Rogosz, Business Manager, FlexHR

As data scientists, we use AI to sift through the data to find the needle in the haystack, which is valuable for an organisation. Without AI, this needle would either be missed or take a lot of manual labour to uncover.

-Tomasz Deptuła, Site Leader, (pictured centre)

Climate change is something that hasn’t come up yet, but it’s an area where both new technology and these growing mid-sized cities can play a role and most likely in tandem.

-Joanna Lewandowska, Transaction Manager, AXI IMMO

Competition for investment and talent is naturally strong among cities, but we do collaborate by sharing traffic data, real estate metrics and other open-source data. We hope to also look at sharing R&D costs. 

Michał Kornacki, Team Leader of Investor Service at Bydgoszcz Regional Development Agency

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