In the future companies will be manufacturing “intelligent”, personalised products more and more frequently. Germany does indeed play a leading role regarding the topic of Industry 4.0 (still), yet the weak interlinking between research and practice is impeding the necessary rapid scientific and economic progress. In the framework of a major, BMBF-funded research project small and medium-sized enterprises in particular are now to be mobilised. Support is available to the enterprises at the new Industry 4.0 contact office at the Institute of Industrial Manufacturing and Management (IFF) of the University of Stuttgart.
Up to now small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have hardly identified the economic benefits of Industry 4.0 and have little experience in the digitalisation and near real time linking of their added value. Against this background Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka has now at the Hanover Fair handed over the grant approval for a major research project to the Head of the Institute of Industrial Manufacturing and Management IFF, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Bauernhansl: the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is now funding two major lines in this field with around five million Euros over a period of three years in the framework of its Ten-Point Program and the high-tech strategy of the Federal Government. The IFF is able to spend just over two millions on the “I4.0-accompanying research to mobilise small and medium-sized enterprises“. The rest is intended for the business office of the national Platform Industry 4.0 of the Federal Government.
The IFF will contribute towards the strengthening, accelerating and simplifying the technology transfer between application-oriented research facilities and small and medium-sized enterprises with the research project. The focus on small and medium-sized enterprises will also enable companies with limited resources that have still been reserved up to now to play a pioneering role in digitalisation.
The competent partner to mediate between small and medium-sized enterprises and research facilities is the national contact and coordination office “I4.0 Test Environments for SMEs – I4SME” that has now been established at the IFF of the University of Stuttgart. This makes the University institute the first contact point and supports SMEs by providing them with information on test environments throughout the whole of Germany, on the support measures themselves and on innovative I4.0 project ideas. Based on the great deal of experience of its scientists, IFF will be able to set up a nationwide “Matching“ between I4.0 project ideas from the companies and suitable I4.0 test environments in research facilities and convey ideal contacts to the small and medium-sized enterprises for their I4.0 projects.
“Innovative test environments such as the application centre Industry 4.0 in our building can lower the inhibitions of the SMEs. If companies are able to test their own ideas without any risks, the long overdue spread of I4.0-technologies will hopefully be greatly accelerated. I would advise each SME to let themselves be advised in matters of Industry 4.0. Even if ultimately not everybody enters the field of digitalisation, for many businesses a continuing lack of interest or inaction could mean the economic end due to diffuse fears“, according to the Head of the Institute, Thomas Bauernhansl.
Contact: Institute of Industrial Manufacturing and Management IFF of the University of Stuttgart, National Contact and Coordination Office “I4.0 Test Environments for SMEs - I4SME“, T 0711 / 685-61866,
Press Office: Dr. Birgit Spaeth, Press Spokesperson, T 0711 / 970-1810,