Industrie 4.0 – a competitive edge for Europe
Around 80 percent of all European exports are industrial products. European industry, which accounts for around 16 percent of the EU’s GDP, employs around 32 million people across more than 2 million companies. The figures show that industry is an engine for prosperity and growth in Europe.
Industrie 4.0 – An opportunity to create value chains that are economically and ecologically sustainable
The European Commission sees Industrie 4.0 not only as a way to create products with high added value, but also as a way to promote environmentally and socially sustainable manufacturing. New technologies are to help establish economically and environmentally sustainable value chains, particularly with internationally competitive companies in Europe. The EU sees itself as an industrial location for the future, a pioneer in digitalisation, and an attractive location for digitised industry – a vision that is being pursued through various incentives and support measures.
The EU as a hub for connecting national initiatives
EiThe EU is undertaking a wide range of measures to support and connect national initiatives that focus on the digitalisation of industry. Twice a year, representatives from the Member States’ initiatives, from industry and the social partners join together for a high-level round table hosted by the European Commission in Brussels. This event is to help breathe life into European cooperation on Industrie 4.0. A number of representatives of Plattform Industrie 4.0 are also part of this process. An overview of the European commission shows that there are more than 30 national and regional initiatives at European level.
Creating a digital single market
Since April 2016, all of the EU’s activities have been pooled into the initiative to create a digital single market. The goal is to prepare Europe for the challenges posed by digital products and services. In Europe, goods, services, people and capital can move around freely. However, the European framework is currently geared towards analogue transfers. As far as digital transfers are concerned, there are a number of barriers that exist despite there being a single market. Only 7 per cent of all European SMEs provide their goods and services across national borders.
As a result of the digitalisation of industry, the level of networking and the extent to which commodities – for example industry-related data – are provided across national borders will grow. Creating a digital single market will therefore make it easier to move data and services across borders within the EU. In order for this to happen, and in order to ensure that there is one single language of communication, priority is given to the development of joint standards that make cross-border transfers possible. These include 5G technology, IT security solutions, cloud computing and data technologies.
A total of 150 projects carried out by companies and research institutions, in areas such as ICT in manufacturing, were provided funding under the 7th European research framework programme between 2008 and 2013. Since 2014, European research projects have been supported under the EU programm Horizon 2020.
Making SMEs a driving force for digitalisation
DsIn order for Industrie 4.0 technologies to be deployed at scale, a strong focus needs to be placed on SMEs. Estimates suggest that digitalisation allows for around €110 billion in additional economic output to be generated annually (source: European Commission). It is therefore crucial to get Europe’s SMEs on board.
The European Commission’s initiative entitled „ICT Innovationen für produzierende KMU“ (kurz I4MS) is aimed specifically at small and medium-sized enterprises. Since summer 2013, the initiative’s centres of excellence have supported small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in testing and implementing information and communications technologies across the entire value chain. The centres provide participating SMEs with the expertise they need to improve their skills.