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Austria moves toward smart factories

September 14, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: With Wisconsin’s cutting-edge research and development in engineering, companies may find opportunities in Austria as its factories adopt advanced technologies.

Austria is becoming a promising center for smart manufacturing.

One example of a company leading the way is Andritz. Founded 170 years ago and based in Graz, Andritz is an international technology group with locations in more than 40 countries and 27,000 employees. With divisions covering a wide range of industries, its manufacturing focus is on producing components critical to technology, quality and the Internet of Things. Andritz is the largest company in Austria’s machinery industry, with €6.7 billion ($7 billion USD) in revenue in 2020, according to Advantage Austria, Austria’s trade promotion organization.

Austrian companies in the plant engineering and smart factory sector are highly specialized to meet their customers’ demands and are driving the modernization of other areas, such as the metal, plastics and mining industries.

Advanced manufacturing is a “best prospect industry sector” for Austria, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA). The government agency said Austria’s manufacturing industry generated $250 billion USD and accounted for 18% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. The Austrian Economic Chamber said manufacturing employs approximately 670,000 in about 29,000 companies across the country.

Austria’s government is providing incentives for its companies to update their technology, offering grants to cover 7% to 14% of the cost for investments in digital transformation, automation and green technologies.

Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to invest $1.1 billion by 2024 in data centers in Austria to support the trend toward advanced manufacturing, and Swiss technology group ABB is building a research campus in Austria where 1,000 employees will conduct research into developing the factory of the future, the ITA said.

Austria’s GDP was $481.2 billion USD in 2021 and is expected to rise to $520.3 billion USD in 2022. The main imports in 2020 were machinery including computers, which represented 13.3% of total imports; electrical machinery and equipment (11.7%); and vehicles (10.3%). Austria’s main exports in 2020 were machinery including computers (17.2% of total exports), electrical machinery and equipment (11.2%) and vehicles (9.7%).

Wisconsin companies specializing in smart technology could find opportunities for exports to Austria. Plattform Industrie 4.0, an initiative of the Austrian government, published a technology roadmap in 2018 aimed at the future of advanced manufacturing in Austria. The report points to the best opportunities for U.S. firms to provide Austrian companies with Industry 4.0 solutions.

The SMART Automation Linz conference, taking place May 23-25, 2023, in Linz, could also provide companies with more information as well as industry connections.



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