Research and innovation

Exchanging knowledge for the products of tomorrow.

Woman with circuit board
© fotolia/science photo

The objective: Industrie 4.0 by design

Scarce resources must be used ever more efficiently. Product cycles are becoming shorter. Customers want increasingly individualised products. As a result, industrial production is becoming more dynamic. The flexibility and complexity of production systems is increasing. This is linked to a fundamental need for research and development: How can complex systems remain manageable? Which basic technologies are needed? How can components be adapted to meet the needs of the respective users?

An initial answer to these questions is provided by so-called cyber-physical systems (CPSs), which involve mechanical and electrical engineering, electronics and software. Examples include intelligent factories and machines which can take action and make decisions independently and organise and optimise themselves. Coordinated business models, processes, methods and tools are required to enable as many actors as possible to implement and operate CPSs economically. At the same time, ways must be found to integrate such CPSs into existing factories quickly.

In the spirit of “Industrie 4.0 by design”, the networking of CPSs should make all relevant information available in real time so that the flow of objects in production and logistics systems can be optimised at all times. For this to be achieved, it must be ensured that the various CPSs from different manufacturers can be connected to each other optimally. With this technological lead, Germany will ensure its technological competitiveness as a manufacturing location in the long term.

Research into engaging SMEs

Surveys show that small and medium-sized enterprises in particular need to be made aware of the opportunities and risks presented by digitisation. Many of the companies believe: Industrie 4.0 is still a research agenda. At the same time, there is uncertainty due to the lack of defined standards for many of the technologies. How can companies come to robust conclusions about which Industrie 4.0 technology has proved viable and make good investment decisions? Nevertheless, either SMEs take on the challenge of digitisation and tap the opportunities it presents or they run the risk of being left behind in the future. Plattform Industrie 4.0 can and will provide valuable assistance in this respect.

Building up Industrie 4.0 expertise among SMEs in a targeted way: The BMWi funding initiative “SME 4.0 – Digital production and work processes”

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) launched the funding initiative "SME 4.0 – Digital production and work processes” in June 2015. Up to five centres of excellence will be funded throughout Germany to inform and advise small and medium-sized and craft-based enterprises about the digitisation process and the implementation of Industrie 4.0. They will also offer physical demonstration and testing facilities. The first centres are scheduled to open at the end of 2015 / early 2016.

Further information: [only in German]

Supporting SMEs in innovation development: The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM)

Did you know that the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) is also open to SMEs for issues related to Industrie 4.0? The programme is open-topic and technology-neutral. Small and medium-sized enterprises can apply for grants for research and development projects in the area of Industrie 4.0. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has increased the funding for ZIM considerably for 2015. This means even more demanding research and development projects can now be funded
Further information: [only in German]

Manufacturing research in the SME sector: The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) research programme “Innovation for the manufacturing, services and work of tomorrow”

The BMBF is funding nine applied research projects that demonstrate to SMEs in particular how Industrie 4.0 technologies can be integrated in practice. The research projects target:

  • the development of tools for economic feasibility studies which allow investment protection and conclusions to be drawn about the future viability of Industrie 4.0 technologies;
  • best practices for the SME sector to facilitate adaptation processes based on transferable solutions;
  • deployment strategies and recommendations for the implementation of modifications. These are to be provided as handouts, checklists and model procedures that deliver assistance in as concrete a manner as possible.

You can read more about the research projects here:
[only in German]

Whitepaper R&D topics: the basis of working group "Research & Development"

The work of working group 2 "Research & Development" builds on the "White Paper R&D topics" of previous the Plattform Industrie 4.0 of the associations BITKOM , VDMA and ZVEI from April 2015. The paper formulates the core issues of Industrie 4.0 regarding research and development from the perspective of the Plattform Industrie 4.0. In addition to defining the topics, the paper provides information on the necessary conditions and interdependencies and defines concrete results to be achieved in the sense of a roapdmap. You can find the paper here. [only in German]