Working Group „Reference Architectures, Standards and Norms“

This working group is working on a lingua franca for the industrial Internet. It develops concepts that form the foundation of future standards. Their considerations set an important framework for standardization procedures—nationally as well as internationally.

Kai Garrels (left), leader of the working group „Reference Architectures, Standards and Norms“, in conversation at the working group meeting in 2017
Kai Garrels (left), leader of the working group „Reference Architectures, Standards and Norms“, in conversation at the working group meeting in 2017 -
© BMWi / Anja Blumentritt

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Challenge and mission: Machines have to learn to speak

Standardization in the industry is not a new phenomenon. However, Industrey 4.0 brings with it a major change: standards that regulate a small portion of production are no longer sufficient. Production is becoming more networked and within standards, hardware and software, user and supplier industries, as well as product design to recycling have to be considered together. Only then can different components in digital ecosystems work together smoothly (keyword: interoperability).

For companies, uniform, open standards are very important. They ensure fair competition and reduce investment risks. Open standards help German medium-sized businesses to transfer their innovative capabilities into the digital age.

The working group "Reference Architectures, Standards and Norms" develops the basis for uniform, open standards and carries their ideas into international standardization processes.

Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0)
Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0)
© Plattform Industrie 4.0
Outcome 1: RAMI 4.0 as a framework for orientation

In the first step, the working group set up the Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0 (RAMI 4.0). With the model, the working group shows which areas in a company are integrated at which interfaces in networked production. RAMI 4.0 includes technical standards, business processes, organizational issues, and other business-related issues (find more information in the presentation "RAMI 4.0 An Introduction" and in the paper "The Reference Architecture Model Industrie 4.0").

RAMI 4.0 aims to be an orientation framework for the entrepreneurial and technical requirements in the industrial internet. To ensure the dissemination of RAMI 4.0, it has been integrated into (inter-)national standardization committees and cooperations – with great success: RAMI 4.0 is recognized as a DIN standard (DIN SPEC 91345) and an international prestandard (IEC PAS 63088). Through the international cooperation of the Plattform Industrie 4.0, RAMI 4.0 has been compared with reference architecture models from the USA, France and China and is considered by the partners to be an important reference point for a uniform understanding.


Assets connected through the Administration Shell.
Assets connected through the Administration Shell.
© Anna Salari, designed by freepik, Model administration shell ©ZVEI SG
Outcome 2: The Administration Shell - the practical test

RAMI 4.0 is an orientation framework, a basic understanding of Industrie 4.0. The RAMI 4.0 model can only become a reality if all networked machines and products can communicate with each other smoothly. This is where the concept of the administration shell developed by Working Group 1 comes in:

The administration shell is the digital depiction that every relevant asset should become part of a networked production. All essential properties of an asset are stored in the management shell. These include, for example, physical properties (weight, size), process values, configuration parameters, statuses, and capabilities. The administration shell is not just a memory, but also a communication interface – through it an asset is integrated into networked, organized Industrie 4.0 production. It is possible to access and control all information about the item. For example, a drill can be checked for its availability and given the command: "Drill a hole 3.5 mm in diameter 4 mm deep at position 4".

All previous publications of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 on the subject of standards can be found here.

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Objectives: To roll out the administration shell and enable long-term interoperability in digital ecosystems

The working group has defined the foundational structure of the administration shell. Now the working group is working out the administration shell in detail and beginning to put it into application. In the fall or winter, the working group will publish two more publications on the administration shell:

  • In the "Details of the Administration Shell", the working group describes how information in the management shell must be prepared and structured to pass information as a package from one partner to the next.
  • In "Specifics of the Administration Shell", the working group defines overarching basic submodels, provides templates for submodels and explains how users can develop submodels themselves. It also describes an Industrie 4.0 scenario that implements and uses the administration shell.


In addition, the working group intends to establish RAMI 4.0 as a lingua franca for Industrie 4.0, to identify standardization gaps, to develop and deepen key themes and to implement use cases in testbeds. In the long term, these activities are contributing towards one overarching goal: enabling interoperability in digital ecosystems.

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Work Structures: The standardization network of the platform

The pressure is growing rapidly to set standards - after all, more and more companies set up their own networked productions. With over 75 meetings per year, the approximately 50 volunteer members of the working group maintain an intensive exchange. The participating experts from industry, research and federal authorities, standardization and associations are well networked and have divided the work into various sub-working groups:

  • Models and standards (ZVEI)
  • Semantics and interaction for Industrie 4.0 components
  • Secure communication for Industrie 4.0, together with Working Group 1 and Working Group 3 (security of networked systems)
  • GMA 7.20
  • Communication protocols (BITKOM)
  • Cross-cutting projects: Implementation of use cases in testbeds


Through a close partnership with the Standardization Council Industrie 4.0 (SCI4.0), the results of Plattform Industrie 4.0 are quickly placed in international standardization bodies. The cooperation with the Labs Network Industrie 4.0 (LNI4.0) ensures that the practical experience gained from numerous initial use cases in the standardization processes is adequately taken into account.

Are you interested in working in this working group? Here you will find details about the opportunities to get involved in Plattform Industrie 4.0.