Hygi panel : made in Belgium

HYGI PANEL: made in Belgium

May 4, 2021

Established in the province of Namur in the early 2000s, the Belgian company HYGI PANEL manufactures products from 100% European raw materials. These materials are sourced from Belgium, France and Italy. The production processes are still for the most part artisanal, but the plan is to become part of the “industry of the future” by the end of 2022.

For some companies, it may be advantageous to relocate their production activities abroad in light of a greater availability of manpower or a better supply of raw materials. However, this does not apply to HYGI PANEL, a company specialised in the production and installation of professional wall and ceiling panelling in environments where hygiene is important. The company not only aims to keep its production activities in Belgium, but also has the ambition to develop them further by investing in a new industrial production centre.

What are the advantages of producing in Belgium?

HYGI PANEL has opted for keeping its production activities in Belgium for several reasons. “We could relocate our production abroad, but we want to pursue a more environmentally sound policy, even though our product is derived from chemicals. As we have developed specific know-how over the years, we also want to retain control of the production quality. It is crucially important that we continue to be the owners of our production process. Our current sales market is Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but it is our ambition be active across Europe. It is true that the rules are more restrictive here than in eastern Europe,  for instance, but it is important to invest in the Industry of the Future (or Industry 4.0),” according to Lorenzo Bongiovanni, business manager of HYGI PANEL.

The HYGI PANEL panels are still manufactured artisanally for the time being. Machines are used, but human intervention is required. Every day, a team of four people works in a double shift system.

what are advantages of producing in Belgium?

Towards an industrialisation of production

HYGI PANEL has chosen to locate its new production plant at only a few hundred metres from its current site, doubling its production surface with more flexible spaces and a production capacity that can meet fluctuations in demand.

What are the advantages of industrialising the production of hygienic panels?

  • Increase of the production capacity and enhancement of the production processes

In the past 18 months, we have tripled our production volume – without taking into account the impact of Covid-19 which resulted in deceleration during one quarter. This year, we will certainly reach the milestone of 40,000 m²/year, and it is our objective to produce more than 100,000 m²/year within 3 to 5 years,” Lorenzo Bongiovanni explains.

optimisation of a high value_added product
  • Optimisation of a high value-​added product

HYGI PANEL wall cladding has a wide range of special characteristics, most importantly its multi-layered production process. The application of a gel-coat layer on the front side facilitates cleaning and general maintenance.

The chopped strand mat (CSM) reinforcement on the rear side results in a highly shock-resistant coating which simultaneously offers a certain degree of flexibility, especially in case of curved walls. Micro-movements will not affect the material. Since manual installation of the panelling impacts the lead time, some professionals opt for cheaper alternatives such as fibreglass coating, which does not provide the same mechanical strength as chopped strand mats.

Industrialisation will optimise the product’s intrinsic qualities as well as its uniformity.

  • Sustainable enterprise

State-of-the-art production systems will make the product more sustainable throughout its life cycle. “From an entrepreneurial point of view, it would be irresponsible not to have a sustainable production system. It’s a long-term investment,” Lorenzo Bongiovanni adds.

  • Promotion of local economic development

Investing in industrialisation will enable HYGI PANEL to increases its competitiveness and compete internationally. “We are proud to do our bit to support the region’s economic development,” Lorenzo Bongiovanni says.

“Industry of the future” programme by Digital Wallonia

"Industry of the future" programme by Digital Wallonia

This year, HYGI PANEL has initiated its transformation process within the scope of the “Industry of the future” programme developed by Digital Wallonia and Agoria. The programme’s goal is to “boost the competitiveness of production companies by making use of advanced digital technologies” (Digital Wallonia).

Seven essential transformations have been envisaged. We are currently in the ‘product prototyping’ stage. This summer we will commence the machine prototyping process. By the end of 2022, our proposal for industrialisation will be ready,” Lorenzo Bongiovanni states.

HYGI Panel’s workforce has increased from six people two years ago to fifteen Belgian and French employees now, without taking into account the network of installers. The industrialisation of the production process will allow the company to step up a gear and improve its competitive position in the market.