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Industrial competitiveness 4.0

In 2009, engineers Fabrice Vigier and Luc Godtler founded AVENCORE, a consulting firm specialised in improving the competitiveness of industrial operations. Such an expertise is equally valuable to both globalised multinational corporations and mid market industrial companies. This is why AVENCORE has advised, over the years, a large number of key players in all major industries. Luc Godtler shares his secrets of a fruitful collaboration, where economic performance often goes hand in hand with innovation. The result is an attractive payback: in all cases, the amount invested by customers remains well below a year’s worth of recurring cost reduction.


What was Avencore’s early focus ?

Luc Godtler : Originally, our industrial consulting offering was mainly focused on design-to-cost projects : how to develop new products, from the most basic to the most complex, with ambitious profitability targets, while delivering the features and performance expected by the market. This approach also applies to products or systems already in production. How do you reduce the cost of an existing products, without affecting product appeal or customer satisfaction in any way… The idea is not to reinterpret standards or regulations. We act upon the cost structure, without any impact on product features. As a matter of fact, a design-to-cost project often leads to an improved customer perception of the product.


How has your offering evolved over time ?

As the company met with success, our offering gradually grew. Today, beyond cost reduction, we optimise all aspects of industrial operations’ competitiveness, from investment projects (CAPEX), to the supply chain (mainly involving suppliers in the development of new products), as well as Q&A.
Many of our customers are currently considering implementing the principles of the next generation factory to their production processes. The challenge is to better meet market requirements. One of the most promising work streams is to standardise some key features, to increase product customisation possibilities. This new modular approach, involving building blocks, saves time and money during design phases. It also mitigates marketing risks. This is how we lead our clients to competitiveness 4.0.


Your services remain in high demand. Why is this ?

Our consulting offering covers all aspects of industrial operations. This positions us as a one stop shop for industrial competitiveness. Our customers benefit from our ability to design novel solutions, as well as adapt and redeploy successful and proven solutions from one industry to another. This high level perspective is very much appreciated by corporate managers, who demand a true understanding of the complexity of their organisations.


Who are AVENCORE’s customers ?

How may we determine if your expertise will meet our readers’ needs ? Our customers and mostly large globalised industrial players, as well as mid-market companies and SMEs. We do not specialise in any given industry. On the contrary, it is our diversified expertise, covering most industrial sectors that sets us apart from competition. We have a proven track record in both B2B and B2C markets, in areas such as aeronautics, space, healthcare, transportation or energy. We work with large industrial companies and their suppliers. As a matter of fact, some of these suppliers even became our clients after we completed a successful consulting mission with one of their customers.


What is your geographical scope ?

Historically, we are very much focused on the French market. However, our scope is widening. The main reason is that the French industry is internationalising. We see core units moving abroad. When a French key industry player is acquired by an American company, for example, we must adapt and follow the management staff wherever they require. Also, our customers are mostly globalised corporations who expect us to design and implement business solutions on a global basis, wherever their production units are located. We must therefore work closely with local teams and inspire them. This requires proximity. So far, Avencore has operated in 23 countries. We are present in France (Paris), Germany (Düsseldorf), the USA (New York) and China (Shanghai).


How do you identify cost reduction opportunities, from a practical stand point ?

With our customer’s approval, we conduct a one to three day diagnosis at our expense, to fully understand the scope of the topic we are facing. We evaluate our customer’s main resources and strong points and obtain an early estimate of the potential gain, of the methods we wish to apply and of how we aim to embark our client’s teams. We then outline our proposition. Your readers will be happy to know that in over 20 years in the trade, I have never seen such a diagnosis that didn’t lead to a valid proposition. Our job is to offer the right response to the issues our customers’ management staff are facing (reduce costs, improve margins). Our purpose is to create the right environment to make this possible.


What are you preferred methods ?

Our methods have their roots in design-to-cost principles. Some aspects may already be familiar to the industry. Others are specific to AVENCORE. It is through our diagnosis and creative thinking that we identify the appropriate levers to act upon and the areas of potential benefit we want to explore. Our approach relies mostly on bringing together and moderating interdisciplinary working groups. We encourage our clients’ experts to make innovative solutions come forth, on the grounds of detailed technical and economical surveys. Many of these innovative solutions have now been patented.


How are you accepted by your customers’ experts ?

General managers often ask us : « How will you make yourselves accepted by our in-house experts » ? This is a valid question. It is a key aspect of our consultants’ talent to understand, lead, challenge, focus and embark our customers’ teams. This is why our recruitment process is very selective. Avencore consultants are all engineers who graduated from the world’s top universities and engineering schools. This early training, along with Avencore’s mentoring program, gives them the skills they need to understand and assess complex technical and economical issues. If our customers’ experts felt they needed to re-explain relevant topics to us over and over again, they would rapidly lose patience and would let us know. Our consultants also need to demonstrate outstanding interacting skills… You are not alone in this market.


What are your main assets ?

We are indeed a one stop shop for operational competitiveness. However, unlike many of our competitors, we specialise in the industry. This position is unique, just like the recruitment process that goes with it. This is precisely what our customers demand.