The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Germany’s Plattform Industrie 4.0 is one of the largest associations in the world focusing on the changes that will arise from digitalization and automation.

February, 2020

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industrie 4.0) refers to the advances that are sweeping industry as automation is combined with digitalization and big data. Germany’s Plattform Industrie 4.0 is driving the digital transformation of industry. Members share best practices, use cases and ideas for international standardization.

Supported by Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Ministry of Education and Research, the association brings together companies, associations, trade unions, politics and science to work on concepts, recommendations for action, implementation projects and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“Lightweighting is a game-changer technology. It is now possible to reduce the time to market, optimize processes and design better products to stay one step ahead of the competitors,” says Dr. Wolfgang Seeliger, MD of Leichtbau BW GmbH, Baden-Württemberg’s development agency for lightweight innovation.

A futuristic circus tent which feels simultaneously alien and organic. ICD researchers cooperated with local company FibR to create a pavilion for the 2019 Bundesgartenschau. Two robotic arms spun a structure made from 150,000m of glass and carbon fibers.

© ICD/ITKE Universität Stuttgart

Engineers and designers are able to make innovations more quickly than ever before. “The complex simulations and feedback loops that lightweight design requires depend on digitalization,” Seeliger says. “A fully digitalized process chain can leverage the entire optimization potential during the product development – especially if lightweight technology has been taken into account from the beginning of the process.” This makes it possible to achieve, for example, 20 iteration loops in as little as two days, rather than just three iterations in six weeks.

Plattform Industrie 4.0’s mission statement for 2030 focuses on interoperability, sustainability and autonomy. It’s a common vision of how businesses in Germany, Europe and the world can help upgrade the social market economy for the digital age. And it lays the groundwork for Germany’s all-important SMEs to digitally network with each other to reinvent their businesses as B2B services.

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