What the experts call "Industry 4.0", known as "Advanced Manufacturing" in the U.S., involves the integration of production processes with the Internet. In the so-called "Internet of Things", machines become building blocks in intelligent factories. The "smart" factory of the future opens up a wide range of new possibilities for enterprises – from automated materials handling to the ability to react flexibly to the latest trends in any market environment.
"The digitization of the production industry is of existential importance to the continued competitiveness of German industry,"
According to a current study conducted by IT solutions supplier CSC, almost every second executive believes companies in Germany are currently not capable of generating the technical and structural prerequisites for integrated production. Nevertheless, the German government expects Industry 4.0 technologies to provide more value-added potential to the tune of € 78 billion in the mechanical and electrical engineering, automotive, chemicals, agriculture and ITC sectors by 2025.
Special showcases make integrated technologies tangible for visitors
Be that as it may, too many companies are still in the dark about the range of opportunities integrated production has to offer or else are holding back due to security concerns. A visit to this year's CeBIT – the world's largest event devoted to IT and the digital economy – will suffice to fill in the blanks, as decision-makers and production managers can find out how to successfully plan digitally controlled processes as well as the solutions which are best-suited to their own production environments. The new thematic cluster on "Business Security" in Hall 6 will answer any questions people may have on the important things that are relevant to security: This is where developers, manufacturers and distributors will present a comprehensive array of IT security solutions.
Of course, integrated processes can also be introduced gradually, as Microsoft Germany's Commercial Lead for the Internet Of Things, Werner Reuss, points out: "In many cases, it’s most effective to start with the 'things', simply because they are already there: the devices in the production halls or in sales as well as software and services, and then add to them the components that make the most sense, like machine-based learning and Cloud solutions." At this year's CeBIT Microsoft will display its exciting showcases in Hall 4 on exactly that topic, whereby "smart connected products" will be one of the main attractions of the new, digital economic miracle: complex systems consisting of hardware, software, sensor technology and communications components which provide for a broad range of new functions and will alter the interaction between manufacturers and users on a lasting basis. Fixtures and fittings manufacturer Alois F. Dornbracht will show how broad the applications spectrum of web technologies can be with his enterprise solution entitled "Smart Water" at the Microsoft stand: There CeBIT visitors will see how they can pay less for hotel accommodation by simply using less water. Facility managers will find out how they can analyze water consumption with the help of the graphic reports produced by a "water cockpit", which also makes it possible to adjust water heating to actual hot-water needs.
Cyber-physical systems revolutionize production
Deutsche Telekom in Hannover, together with research institutions and partners from industry, will present pilot projects and concrete solutions for the fourth industrial age. "The use of cyber-physical systems," says Hagen Rickmann, managing director of T-Systems, "will radically change the industrial production of products worldwide and offer industry as well as consumers enormous opportunities."
The IBM exhibit portfolio ranges from solutions for integration, big data & analytics to software engineering, collaboration tools and security solutions. The combination of integrated IT systems with such modern analysis tools as predictive maintenance & quality (PMQ) also makes it possible to identify errors during production in real time. At this year’s show, IBM will present a PMQ pilot project which they have installed in the quality assurance department of a major German automotive supplier. In other practical application scenarios for the automotive industry, IBM will also show what advantages manufacturers as well as suppliers can benefit from. There is hardly a business division that’s left untouched – from engineering to vehicle lifecycle management and the energy management of production facilities right on up to new services.
At CeBIT, SAP will present innovative applications on the Internet of Things as well as focus on integrated production. One highlight at this software manufacturer’s stand is a "digital farming" showcase, with which SAP will demonstrate that integrated technologies are also able to provide added value for the agriculture industry. Farm owners will discover opportunities to analyze and optimize processes, to achieve higher yields and work better in terms of environmental conservation. A field of wheat growing at the SAP stand will provide for a special flair. Visitors can make themselves part of the show there – in keeping with the motto of "put yourself in the shoes of a farmer".
Spectacular industrial robots and trailblazing business ideas
The trend topic of Industry 4.0 at the CODE_n competition in Hall 16 will be vividly brought to life with an interactive robot installation: the ROBOCHOP project, created by designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram will feature four large industrial robots. Internet users from all over the world can access the system via a dedicated website to create small pieces of furniture using a 3-D web app. This furniture will then be produced during CeBIT and sent to the users. In addition, 13 finalists in the start-up competition, nine of which are German, will present their ideas for the industrial Internet of Things. The young entrepreneurs will concentrate on platform solutions with which companies can efficiently take care of the maintenance, management and development of machine-to-machine applications.
As a result, CeBIT 2015 has a lot to offer in terms of suggestions for new business models and the digital transformation of companies of all sizes and in all industries. The Industrial Users Forum in Hall 12 is also well worth a visit: during the specialist conference on 19 March, experts will discuss the top trends in the field of manufacturing and provide pointers on how the industries involved can react to current and future challenges.