Architecting Industry 4.0 on tradition and know-how

Published on 1 December 2019

There are over 300,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Switzerland belonging to over 250 trade associations. With respect to other countries, the percentage of foreign-generated sales revenue to total sales by Swiss SMEs is one of the highest in the world demanding that even the smallest companies adopt global mindsets to remain competitive.

Looking to support local manufacturers and having Industry 4.0 and digital transformation on the top of its agenda, the Chamber of Commerce of Fribourg chose TOPP TI to partner with an elite team of Swiss engineers to build a software solution giving manufacturers visibility into the many opportunities in innovation available in the market and the confidence they need to act.

Since 2017, under the guidance of the School of Architecture & Engineering of Fribourg, TOPP TI acted as the development partner in collaboration with 6 locally-based mid-size manufacturers in the development of a quality control solution built on the core principles of Lean Six Sigma and the Industry 4.0 toolkit recently published by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).

Industrial partners

German company that manufactures components for electrical connections and electronic components for decentralized automation. (

ROMAG specialises in the development and manufacture of screens for overflow structures. (

Polytype Converting is a global supplier of coating technology and coating equipment for the surface finishing of a wide variety of substrates. (

At the forefront in the development of milling processes in the pharmaceutical, fine chemical, and food sectors since 1946. (

Bulle-based family-run leader in metal construction and high-tech facades with more than 300 employees (

Founded in 1927 as a public limited company, Cremo is a Swiss company that manufactures and markets high quality dairy products in a consistent and sustainable way in Switzerland and around the world. (

    Vivien Charrey explains the TOPP TI

    product development workflow

The project pilot named ‘Connect 4.1’ had the objective to offer the Canton of Fribourg a new means to assess opportunities in innovation to remain competitive. The test pilot included the build of a unique quality assessment software platform allowing for a series of audits to be conducted across 6 initial industrial partners

Led by the Professor Raymond Riess, his engineering team from the University and supported by the TOPP TI Development team, over the course of 2018 & 2019 the business solution was finalised and successfully installed into manufacturing operations giving deep visibility into areas of business including customer service, leadership & management, staff engagement and technology

    Professor Riess presents

    his enhanced Hoshin Kanri matrix

Throughout the course of the product build phase, a wide variety of professional relationships were established allowing for the deep concentration necessary to focus on quality product development.Under the guidance of Professor Riess, the extended team took queues to articulate the business requirements provided by the engineers with the operational feedback from the manufacturing partners to ultimately leverage the technical and creative abilities of the TOPP TI Product Team.

A Lean culture built on complementary skill sets

In mid 2019, the fruits of almost 2-years of workshops was effectively brought to the manufacturing floor. The final solution leverages and enhances our cloud-based continuous improvement solution PRESTO Digital Enterprise, a collection of best-of-breed tools currently used by small & mid-sized companies for operational excellence support in areas of strategy, KPI, issue and change management.

As the development phase officially closed, the test pilot started strong with the product installation across the 6 industrial participating partners. In its first months, the product was used by a limited group of quality assurance personnel and business leaders together with the team University Engineers. It is foreseen that in the second quarter of 2020, the user group will expand to include additional subject matter experts from the shop floor to assist in the development of the long-term usage model.

See complete set of results of case study here:

Architecting Industry 4.0 on tradition and know-how from TOPP Tactical Intelligence Ltd