Industry 4.0: A Strategy of the European Union and Germany to Promote the Manufacturing Industries – Opportunities and Challenges of Digitization

Industry 4.0: A Strategy of the European Union and Germany to Promote the Manufacturing Industries – Opportunities and Challenges of Digitization

Immo H. Wernicke (German Government (retired), Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3473-1.ch106
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The German Government and the European Commission have launched the strategic initiative named Industrie 4.0 for a re-industrialization of Germany and Europe and for achieving more competitiveness and sustainable growth. The strategy promotes and supports R&D and the implementation of digital technologies at SMEs of the traditional manufacturing industries. Digital technologies include Cyber Physical Systems, Cloud Computing, Robotics, 3D-printer-technology, Smart Factories, Additive-Manufacturing, and Artificial Intelligence. The impact of digitization on the economy, on employment, and on business results of SMEs is not yet clear due to insufficient availability of business data. The methodological framework of a SWOT-Analysis might be most convenient to discuss the strength, weakness, challenges, and opportunities of the strategy and the threats on its implementation. The contribution is addressed to politicians, academics, media, startups, and managers of SMEs that are less familiar with the Industrie 4.0 strategy. The concept might be useful to overcome the impact of the corona virus lockdown.
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The Impact Of The Industry 4.0 Initiative

National and International Publications

A review of publications on Industrie 4.0 approves the concept has spread world-wide and influenced other sectors, e.g. health, Logistics 4.0, and Agriculture 4.0. Similar programs have been established in the United States, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Brazil, and in many developing countries by taking into account specific national perspectives (Zhong, R.Y., Xu, X., Klotz, E., Newman, S.T. 2017). Masdefiol, R., del Mar, Stävmo, F. (2016) have checked the feasibility to implement Industrie 4.0 in Sweden. The academic community is committed to stimulate R&D, conferences, studies, and publications on implementing digital technologies in economic sectors (Gausemeier, J., Klocke, F., 2016).

Balasingham, K. (2016), however, emphasizes in his thesis that the implementation of the new technologies in SMEs “is not discussed excessively”. Most companies and organizations have not yet implemented the new digital technologies. The bulk of publications is still provided by the German Government, the EU Commission, and public research institutes. Academic publications focus on reports and analyzes of official papers on this topic and on technical descriptions of the innovations. (Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, 2018)

Key Terms in this Chapter

3D Printer Technology: Can apply all types of pulverized solid materials, including pulverized metals, for printing physical products also of large size.

Digital Infrastructure: Is set up by digital software, servers, and physical global and local networks.

Additive Manufacturing: Describes a digitized production process and digitized products in manufacturing.

Industrie 4.0: Is a German term used as a name of an official internet platform and as a label of digital technologies in manufacturing industries.

Smart Factories: Are digitized intelligent factories using additive manufacturing and robotics.

Robotics: Deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots and the computer systems for their control information processing.

Energetic Infrastructure: Is set up by power stations, long range power lines and regional and local grids for electricity.

Cyber Physical Systems: Are being set up by the internet of things that are machines, employees, products, and products facilities being digitally interconnected by the internet.

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