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Guideline study into the future of manufacturing

Survey of production managers and experts sketches out a vision for Industry 4.0

Fraunhofer IAO is laying the foundations for building the 4th industrial revolution. In its study entitled “Manufacturing Activities of the Future – Industry 4.0”, some 600 production managers and over 20 top-class experts sketch out a vision of work in tomorrow’s factories. You can download the study for free from June 2013. An Industry 4.0 innovation network is scheduled to be launched on July 2.

The Internet, mobile devices and smart objects are changing the face of manufacturing, and experts agree that this fourth industrial revolution – or “Industry 4.0”, as they are calling it – will have a profound effect on the way we make things. Hallmarks of this change will be the blanket use of information and communications technology as well as sensor systems. The real-time capability provided by mobile communication, autonomous objects and real-time sensor systems enables not just decentralized control but also ad hoc tailoring of processes. This in turn will help companies speed up and increase the flexibility of how they respond to customer requirements.

But so far we have only a vague idea of what Industry 4.0 actually means in concrete terms for Germany’s manufacturing sector and its employees. Fraunhofer IAO’s recent study entitled “Manufacturing activities of the future – Industry 4.0” gives science and industry a basis on which to build the fourth industrial revolution. The study sketches out various directions in which manufacturing activities could develop and supports companies as they move toward Industry 4.0. It describes the roles humans and machines will play in manufacturing in future, along with how networked mobile communication and flexible manufacturing activities will create new competitive advantages for innovative manufacturers. Not least, the study throws light on a 4.0 approach to production control and clarifies where manufacturing activities and knowledge work will merge in future. It is a must for anyone in the German manufacturing sector who is keen to shape the future of their industry.

But when it comes to working up solutions for the future of Germany’s manufacturing activities, theory is by no means enough for Fraunhofer IAO. To come up with practical approaches, the institute is launching the Manufacturing Activities 4.0 innovation network.

Made up of industrial companies and research partners, this network will hold its kickoff event in Stuttgart on July 2. Fraunhofer IAO’s Industry 4.0 Future Lab also gives manufacturing companies the chance to take a networked Industry 4.0 approach as they examine various economic applications, find practicable ways to implement them, and develop profitable new business models. If you are interested in getting involved, please get in touch with the contact person listed below.

Tobias Krause | Fraunhofer IAO
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