MANUFACTURING THE FUTURE: the evolution of Industrie 4.0


The future and prosperity of entire countries depend on the production of goods, just as many jobs in the USA and worldwide. The future of digitalized manufacturing and Industrie 4.0 rests entirely upon the ability to pool experti­se and resources. Fraunhofer’s interdisciplinary systems expertise sparks the new ideas that meet the challenges of a changing world and helps create customized solutions right along the value chain.

Digitalized production technologies are transforming business models and changing market structures. Concepts like Industrie 4.0 and the Internet of Things represent a paradigm shift in business and society, generated by a growing number of increasingly connected and automated devices, machines and products. Forecasts indicate that by 2020, 32 billion objects will be connected to the Internet. The economic impact of digitalization is staggering: studies show that in six economically important industries alone, Industrie 4.0 will give rise to productivity increases in the tens of millions by 2025. “But from the new opportunities that accompany digitalization grow expecta­tions. As well as being cost-efficient and sustainable, connected production and work processes must be secure, flexible and intuitive”, says Fraunhofer President Prof. Reimund Neugebauer. “This has implications for individualized production with batch sizes as small as one to the same extent it does for connected large scale production, logistics and communication.”

Digitalized manufacturing: Trends, perspectives and business opportunities

Many jobs in the USA and worldwide depend on the production of goods. How can the pioneering role in economy and the prosperity of the USA be secured in times of increasing global competition and finite resources? How can mechanical and plant engineering continue to function as one of the greatest strengths of many economies? How can production costs be reduced to secure the welfare of local manufacturing sites? How can new interconnected technologies make production smarter as well as more flexible, individual, efficient and sustainable? Fraunhofer offers insight into the latest research results in the fields of production, digitalization, automation and networking, resulting in competitive advantage for businesses. Prof. Neugebauer: “State-of-the-art sensor technology offers a single solution to cover all these bases. It is, in fact, cognitive systems and machine learning that make it possible to have an industrial Internet of Things in the first place. As an established partner to worldwide industry, Fraunhofer is perfectly positioned to support highly customized mass production, developing solutions that are always tailored to customers’ practical requirements. Our experts are playing an active role in strengthen­ing the long-term global competitiveness of the companies that make up Germany’s and Europe’s industrial base, and can do so for US enterprises as well.”