Toulon, 10 June, 2022 – ECA Group today opens its brand new factory in Ostend, Belgium, in the presence of Hilde Crevits, Deputy Prime Minister of the Flemish Government and Admiral Hofman, Chief of Defence.
This state-of-the-art facility will be dedicated to the production and support of the Mine Warfare Drones of ECA Group, one of the world leaders in Mine Counter Measures solutions.
Already the hundreds of drones contracted by the Belgium and Dutch Navies are due to be manufactured and support in this facility with deliveries starting in 2024. In parallel, this facility will also serve the other contracts and prospects of ECA Group. Lean manufacturing of AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) and USV (Unmanned Surface Vehicles), efficient supply chain management, and demonstrations to customers will be the core of its activities.
This new facility will further strengthen ties with the Belgium and Dutch navies, the Naval Academy (with a.o. Naval Mine Warfare NATO Centre of Excellence), local industries and academic players in Belgium. ECA Group will partner with local companies and will contribute to the development of local skills and industrial capabilities.
The ECA Group Ostend factory has a direct access to the waterfront. The drones will be sea tested and customers will be able to see them evolve directly under normal conditions of use.
The support received from the city of Ostend, the Port of Ostend, the Flemish government and Belgium Defence has been exemplary and helped the timely construction of this new facility. This represents a multimillion euros investment of ECA Group and its shareholder Groupe Gorgé.
The employment area of Ostend is particularly attractive. In the short term, 25 positions are being created and the team will grow to 50 people in the coming years. The entire team is proud to have met the initial deadlines, despite the COVID crisis: the factory was delivered last January and the move started in February. The production of the drones will start in September and the first complete toolbox will be delivered to the Belgian Navy in 2024.
“Innovation is not only a lever for economic growth and employment, but it also offers solutions. In this case it keeps navy personnel as far away from danger as possible. I am pleased that ECA Group has chosen Flanders to further flourish their expertise in robots and drones. West-Flanders will definitely benefit from this new factory as new jobs will be created, and closer ties with Flemish companies and academic players will be forged. ” – Hilde Crevits, Vice-Minister-President of the Flemish Government.
“These new premises illustrate both ECA Group’s strong desire to establish itself in Belgium over the long term and the unfailing support given to this project by the federal and regional authorities. They represent a substantial investment of more than €10 million, which would not have been possible without the significant support of the Flemish Region.” says Dominique Giannoni, CEO of ECA Group.
“We are very pleased with the architecture of the building by A1AR, and the delivery of the project in time, in scope and in budget by Willy Naessens Group. Our focus now shifts to the ramping up of production later this year, and towards the recruitment of many new team members as we are looking for workers, technicians, administrative people and engineers.” says Steven Luys, CEO of ECA Robotics Belgium.
Photo courtesy ECA Group