The midsize sector on its way into the digital age
No fewer than 99 per cent of all the enterprises in Germany are estimated to be in the midsize sector. These medium-sized enterprises generate more than half the added value and provide over 60 per cent of all the jobs in industry. Particularly in the industrial midsize sector, smart products, flexible production, efficiency and interconnected added value offer tremendous potential, but also some major challenges.
The Transfer Network Industrie 4.0 – broad-based support for the midsize sector
A large number of protagonists are already supporting the midsize sector on its way into the digital age with a wide range of amenities: the Industrie 4.0 initiatives of the federal states, the Midsize 4.0 Centres of Competence, the sector-specific associations Bitkom, VDMA and ZVEI, the Chambers of Commerce, the BMBF, the BMWi, LNI e.V., the Plattform Industrie 4.0 and others are offering information, workshops, advice and much more. There is already a keen exchange between a number of transfer protagonists in joint projects and events.
In order for these protagonists' transfer measures to be able to develop a higher degree of efficiency, thus ensuring that the midsize sector is given even better support, the BMWi and the BMBF have initiated the Transfer Network Industry 4.0. Here, transfer protagonists can exchange ideas and opinions, identifying synergies and combining resources in appropriate measures.
At the end of the day, it is not just the partners in the Transfer Network who benefit from this, but the midsize sector as a whole.
The administrative office of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 functions as a supporter of the Transfer Network and organises exchanges and connectivity among the partners. At the same time, the Plattform Industrie 4.0 is itself a network partner, pursuing transfer activities of its own on an equal basis with the other partners.
The network is open to others who wish to take part in transfers in the field of Industrie 4.0. (See below for contact.)
Activities gaining momentum
The Transfer Network is still in the process of being set up. Nevertheless, many of the partners' activities are already being pursued, expanded and initiated in it, for example:
- The experts at Bitkom, VDMA, ZVEI and the Plattform Industrie 4.0 are working together closely in core topics such as standardisation via various working groups and think tanks and have already issued various publications together.
- The partners are already working closely together to make clear Industrie 4.0 example applications available. Many of them have their own collections of best practice examples with different fields of emphasis. The partners refer one another to their best practice collections and provide one another with suitable examples.
- The same goes for the support amenities: on line, the partners incorporate the amenities of their partners in their web presentations (e.g. the on the LNI e.V. website and the compass of the Plattform Industrie 4.0).
- The partners use the Transfer Network to find the right experts for their workshops, conferences and specialist lectures (e.g. Industrie 4.0 day, Baden-Württemberg).
- Collaboration between the Plattform Industrie 4.0 and Midsize 4.0 centres of competence: the working groups of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 on law, security and work make their professional recommendations for action in central areas of emphasis available to their counterparts at the centres of competence and discuss them with them. Parallel to that, the centres of competence combine the needs of the medium-sized enterprises for action and incorporate them in the work of the platform.
- In the Transfer Network, the research design for the 'preparatory study of the development of SME support on a user-friendly, as-required basis for the introduction and application of 'Industrie 4.0' is being discussed. The study is being funded by the BMBF, drawn up by the research advisory board and coordinated by the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech). The results are due out in mid-2018, whereupon they will be presented in the Transfer Network and elsewhere, and discussed.