Poland - Commercial Guide
Advanced Manufacturing

Sub-sector best prospects: Include the sub-sectors in which U.S. companies would have the best opportunity of exporting.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Industry 4.0 refers to the adoption of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.  It includes cyberphysical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and cognitive computing.  Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.   
Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory.” Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world, and make decentralized decisions.  Over the IoT, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time both internally and across organizational services offered and used by participants in the value chain.   
Poland is a growing manufacturing power in Europe, and there is increased demand for new and innovative manufacturing technologies. The Polish Government is pushing the development and investment in new technologies, such as additive manufacturing, that will drive Poland’s economy to the next level, and there are grants and other resources available to support innovative R&D.  

Poland is the sixth largest manufacturing country within the EU, with manufacturing contributing 27 percent of the country’s GDP. Leading manufacturing sectors include: food and beverages; automotive; metal products; rubber and plastic; coke and refined petroleum products; chemicals and chemical products; electrical equipment; non-metallic mineral products; basic metal products; miscellaneous machinery and equipment, and furniture. In 2018, the manufacturing sector grew by 5.8%, compared to the overall GDP growth rates of 5,1%. In February 2019, manufacturing grew by 6.9%.  
The Polish Government’s economic development agenda heavily focuses on supporting innovation. Poland currently ranks as a moderately innovative country (21st place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index) as measured by R&D spending, manufacturing capability and high-tech companies’ presence. To help Polish industry move to the next level, the Polish Government launched its Industry 4.0 Platform in 2019. The aim of this project is to increase the innovativeness of Polish companies, popularizing knowledge about 4.0 processes and developing competences in areas such as robotics and automation.   
According to the Polish officials, the amount of investment in innovation in Poland equals $9 billion, and more than 300 R&D centers have been created in the last few years to improve innovation. One of the most innovative investments of last years was a 3M SuperHub in Wroclaw, a modern production plant which became a model for the region. The plant, called the “manufacturing plant of the future”, has highly automated production and supply chain, as well as modern safety and security measures controlled by drones. U.S. companies like Raytheon have partnerships with Polish educational institutions to increase engineering capabilities and develop the manufacturing process of their Polish partners and support engineering and robotics education among Polish students.  

The Polish Government provides a number of incentives to support advanced manufacturing and industrial transformation through tax incentives and  a robust grant system to support research and innovation surrounding manufacturing.    Grants are provided to support  industry research, and experimental means of production that are likely to be implemented in manufacturing. These projects, with a budget of USD 200 million, are supervised by the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR) and the Agency for Industry Development (ARP). The country is also applying its EU “cohesion funds”, USD 9.3 billion,  to research and innovation alone. Specific European Projects within the Operational Program “Intelligent Development” might also be dedicated for innovative projects. In 2019, companies may apply for USD 395 million for subventions for innovations in their companies, as well as for almost USD 300 million for R&D. 
Polish companies can also compete for funds from the European “Horizon 2020” program, which awards Euro 500 million to organizations through 2020 for digital innovation centers and free flow data projects in six industries: automotive, space, defense, textiles, maritime technologies, and tourism. Poland continues to heavily invest in and develop its 4G networks and to integrate digital technologies with the cloud.  The government sees expanding this infrastructure as key to making the transition to Industry 4.0; and has declared it will make further investments in a fiber optic and faster internet infrastructure. 5G development will begin in 2019, with the 5G network becoming available in most large Polish cities by 2022.   
Industry experts also see extensive investments in digital technologies as inevitable as they are the only way to allow Polish manufacturers to stay competitive on the domestic and international markets, especially as labor as labor shortages and labor costs rise.  PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in 2017 that expenses for digital transformation of Polish companies will increase up to 7,7% until 2020. According to Grant Thornton, 41% of Polish companies will be investing in IT Technologies and 40% in R&D in 2019. 
While Poland is ripe for exploiting opportunities in advance manufacturing, the country does need to overcome some obstacles that may hold Polish industry back: specific regulations and a lack of technological standards, shortages of experts in the field, limitations of existing digital technologies, and a reluctance to adopt new solutions.  There is also a need to introduce ethical and legal standards for the use of  artificial intelligence  and robots that are  being discussed at the EU level. 
Leading Sub-Sectors 
New technologies will be especially important in the aviation, defense, and automotive industries. Polish suppliers are already a large part of the manufacturing process in these industries, and manufacturers must meet the technological standards of their suppliers. Industry 4.0 is also spreading to logistics and storage operations. In terms of Industry 4.0, the most promising sectors are automotive and aviation, followed by pharmaceuticals and household appliances.  
Both the automotive and aerospace industries are important to Poland’s manufacturing sector.  Automotive manufacturing, with over 180,000 employees, is the fourth largest industrial employer in Poland, and the country ranks as the eight largest car manufacturer in the Europe. Many OEMs, such as Fiat, Toyota, VW and Opel, among others, have made investments in Poland, and their Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, such as Lear, Delphi, Federal Mogul, Tenneco, etc., have followed them. In 2018, Poland produced 659,600 vehicles. Poland manufactures engines (Daimler, PSA, Volkswagen Motor), tires (Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone), parts and components (Valeo, Hutchinson, BorgWarner, Faurecia, Johnson Controls, Delphi). Moreover, there are several R&D centers located in the country, such as Delphi, Wabco, Faurecia, Nexteer, Tenneco and Eaton. Furthermore, Poland is the region’s largest automotive market in terms of sales and services.  
Each year, new investments in the automotive sector are established. Lately, Mercedes decided to manufacture engines in Poland. The brand-new plant, which should start operating in 2019, represents an investment of over $550 million and will generate employment for 1000 people. The factory will represent an example of Industry 4.0 manufacturing. 

Aerospace is a dynamic and growing sector of Poland’s economy. Global demand for Polish-made products and increasing air passenger travel and development of associated infrastructure drive this growth.   

Aerospace manufacturing is largely centered in the Aviation Valley – a specialized industry cluster in Southeast Poland with a large concentration of aerospace OEMs, scientific research centers and educational and training facilities, with over 160 companies and more than 30,000 employees. International companies such as Sikorsky, Augusta Westland, Pratt & Whitney and Airbus, among others, have made investments in the region.  Much production focuses on helicopters and airplanes and engines and engine components. GE Aircraft Engines has located some R&D facilities in Poland, and in 2019 Lufthansa Technik and GE Aviation announced a $274 million investment to open a new engine maintenance and repair operation RMO) to service GE9X engines.   

Growth in these two sectors is heavily reliant on the development of advanced technologies and will drive demand for the latest in automation and additive manufacturing in Poland.   

Recent analyses of the competitive global industry markets indicate Poland is in a strong position for and has good prospects of  future investments in industrial automation and manufacturing technology.  Good opportunities for U.S. exporters  include: 

  • Additive manufacturing equipment  

  • Sensors and instruments 

  • Electric motors and actuators 

  • Electrical relays and industrial control equipment 

  • Material handling equipment 

  • Industrial robots, including those used in spot welding, sorting, palletizing, and painting 

  • Machine tools for cutting metal and forming metal pieces 

  • Machine tools parts, both OEM and after-market 

  • Tools, dies, jigs, and fixtures for manufacturing applications 

  • Welding and soldering equipment