Cooperation rather than competition
As the digital transformation of industry moves forward, it becomes increasingly important to take control of it. Thanks to the work of a wide range of different stakeholders, Plattform Industrie 4.0 has become the central hub for national and international activities on the digital transformation of manufacturing in Germany. The platform is sponsored by policymakers, representatives of business, academia, the associations and unions. A total of more than 350 stakeholders from 150 organisations are now actively involved in the platform’s bodies and working groups (). The platform’s stakeholders are working on a number of important fields of action for Industrie 4.0 and a lot has already been achieved.
Services for SMEs
The platform’s members raise awareness for Industrie 4.0 among companies – particularly small and medium-sized ones – and encourage and help these companies to put Industrie 4.0 applications into practice.
The Plattform Industrie 4.0 website features an which displays around 350 examples of Industrie 4.0 applications (German map; English translation: around 20). These examples are a key source of inspiration for companies – particularly for SMEs – as they help them find out which Industrie 4.0 applications may be used in their own company. In addition to this, the map shows a number of places where companies can test new developments under real-life conditions. Finally, the map displays advisory services provided, for example, by the chambers of industry and commerce or by initiatives based in the Länder – the results are broken down by region. The online map is meant to be ‘dynamic’. Stakeholders can submit new content, which is then added on a regular basis.
Apart from the online map, Plattform Industrie 4.0 has developed an (only in German) helps companies find their way around the support services that are available. The compass lists more than 50 non-commercial support services that are available in Germany and does so in a way that makes it easy for companies to find the service they need to successfully implement their Industrie 4.0 solution. This is done, for example, by breaking down the services by the development stage of the Industrie 4.0 solutions. The compass provides basic information, information about specific testing opportunities and information about how to implement a pilot project.
In addition to this, Plattform Industrie 4.0 has held more than 50 events for raising awareness among companies and for training them. These events have been organised in cooperation with the chambers of industry of commerce, associations and the Länder-based initiatives. The series of events entitled (only in German) provides people interested in Industrie 4.0 with information about key issues such as IT security, legal implications of Industrie 4.0, progress on standardisation, innovation transfer and many others. These events also allow company representatives to directly network with one another.
In order to put Industrie 4.0 solutions into practice, it is key for companies to have access to testing centres. A number of Plattform Industrie 4.0 members – including companies and associations – have therefore started a new initiative entitled . This initiative helps companies find suitable centres where they can test their Industrie 4.0 solutions before making any major investment. The findings that result from the work undertaken in these testing environments also inform the efforts undertaken on standardisation, the work done by the platform’s working group on ‘Reference Architectures, Standards and Norms’ and the (only in German). So the testing centres not only provide support for SMEs but also help drive forward standardisation. In the future, Plattform Industrie 4.0 will work even more closely with academic partners and companies on the issue of testing environments.
Recommendations for action for policymakers and companies
Plattform Industrie 4.0 has six working groups, each of which focuses on a different subject: Working group 1 addresses ‘reference architecture, standards and norms’, working group two ‘research and innovation’, working group 3 ‘security of networked systems’, working group 4 legal frameworks’, working group 5 ‘work, education and training’, and working group 6 ‘digital business models’.
The working groups develop concepts and recommendations for action for the pre-competitive stage in a number of selected areas. These recommendations are aimed at both companies and policymakers: Working group 1 has developed a model that illustrates the basis for . Working group 2 has drawn up a in which it identifies and ranks a number of issues that companies are to conduct more research on and where providing dedicated funding programmes could prove worthwhile. Working group 3 has released a ‘’ which helps companies – particularly SMEs – implement digitised manufacturing processes in a way that is secure. Working group 4 deals with lawmakers’ need to . Working group 5 addresses the issue of Training and Education for Industrie 4.0 and looks at what new skills employees need to develop in the age of digitalisation and Industrie 4.0. The recommendations provided by working group 5 are aimed at both policymakers and companies. Working group 6 analyzes the basic mechanisms of digital business models. On this basis, it determines opportunities and challenges.
The platform’s working groups develop recommendations for action on standards, research, IT security, legislation and training, thus providing input for companies, policymakers and civil society. All papers, concepts, guidelines and recommendations for action will be successively published in the platform’s .
In light of the “Digital-Gipfel” (Digital Summit) 2017 the platform published a [only in German]. The 10-point plan was jointly developed by the Plattform participants from the economy, associations, unions, science and politics. With the recommendations for action the platform addresses companies and politics but also lays out tasks for itself.
The Plattform Industrie 4.0 stakeholders have developed the . RAMI 4.0 is a three-dimensional coordinate system that displays the complex interactions of Industrie 4.0, namely IT, lifecycle and automation hierarchy. The system is set out in DIN specification DIN SPEC 91345 and is attracting a lot of attention internationally. For some time now, it has been discussed by international standardisation organisations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Working group 1 of Plattform Industrie 4.0 aims to move forward standardisation. It has recently come up with a so-called interaction model for Industrie 4.0 components. From this model, rules for the interaction between machinery, sensors and products can be derived.
A number of the platform’s key stakeholders have founded the Standardization Council 4.0. This initiative aims to develop standards for digital production and to coordinate them at both national and international level.
National and international alliances
The platform engages in intensive dialogue with both national and international alliances in order to drive forward the debate on standardisation and in order to position Germany as the lead market for Industrie 4.0. The platform is also part of the dialogue that takes place between Federal Government and Länder initiatives. At international level, the platform works with the (USA), (France) and the (Japan). In addition to this, Germany has signed a Memorandum of Understanding and adopted a joint action plan with China, and maintains regular dialogue with the European Union and the G20 countries.
It is currently working with its international partners to draw up an online overview of Industrie 4.0 applications worldwide.