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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.