Industry 4.0 Barometer - Iterative Assessment of Industry 4.0 Activities in German Industry.

Industry 4.0 has gained substantially in significance over the last few years and has become a strategic focus through out the industry. Businesses have understood that digital transformation to achieve Industry 4.0 targets must be based on the intelligent networking of the real and virtual worlds. The idea is to increase the efficiency of business processes and organisation, improve the quality of products and services and facilitate the creation of innovative business models and products. This makes it possible to develop additional customer and market segments.

Set against this background, businesses across all industries are aiming to ensure greater competitiveness for their existing products and services and also for the relevant value chains. To turn this into profit, businesses are prepared to make high investments in Industry 4.0 technologies over the next few years [GSM+15].

At the same time, businesses tend to be put off by the considerable financial outlay and complexities of implementing these ideal technological scenarios. Moreover, it is often the case that the required investment cannot be quantified, the solutions would only be profitable in the long term or there is too little expertise within the company for the successful realisation of Industry 4.0 solutions. There are not enough examples where businesses have already successfully implemented complete Industry 4.0 principles. Most businesses are therefore still unsure as to what their general goal for Industry 4.0 should be, and how they might achieve it.

Future Profitability – Impact of global megatrends on product cost and competitiveness

The megatrends that significantly influence global developments in the new millenium are as follows: „Climate Change and Resource Scarcity, Urbanization, Economic Power Shifts, Demographic Changes, Technological Progress, Globalization and Consolidation“.

We have conducted a survey based on these megatrends, to address the key question which affects the core of any business, namely „how can businesses ensure their future commercial success and their future profitability?“.

This study (conducted by MHP - A Porsche Company) presents an internal perspective of the industry, indicating the most important trends/challenges facing businesses, within the context of megatrends and product cost management, leading towards shaping a successful future.

The aim of this trend survey is to quantify the impact and importance of the megatrends in terms of „future profitability“ and document this statistically. The survey is comprised of 129 decision-makers, predominantly from the automotive industry and the mechanical and plant engineering, who have participated with valuable technical expertise.

BIG DATA Future – Opportunities and Challenges for the German Industry

The quantity of available data is growing rapidly – with the Internet of Things, this development will even accelerate in the next years. Particularly well-known companies from the digital business have been analyzing structured and unstructured information for years and achieving great success with them: e.g., in the targeted contact of customers or the precise forecast of sales volumes. BIG DATA has not reached industrial companies at the same scope yet – also and particularly not companies in the automotive industry. At the moment, they are still examining how they can transfer the experience and approaches of digital business to their industries and which application scenarios promise benefits. Where are the industrial companies in Germany precisely in the implementation of BIG DATA, though? We have tried to answer this question with the MHP BIG DATA Future study. Between August and October 2014, we asked 254 decision-makers in industrial companies in Germany about the subject of BIG DATA online and anonymously.

The surprising result

BIG DATA is not a reality yet for most companies. Only 6% of the participants stated that they had already introduced BIG DATA concepts in their companies. More than every third company either has no plans at all or limits itself to collecting general information on BIG DATA. Roughly every fifth respondent is thinking about specific application scenarios. Pilot projects have been started in 28% of the companies. To say it clearly: dynamics and high commitment are not visible at the moment. The industry in general is still far from a wide technical BI/BIG DATA penetration.

Industry 4.0 – A Viewpoint of the Automotive and Manufacturing Industries

Since the end of the 18th century, several industrial revolutions have caused fundamental changes in the economy and society at large. In each case, they were triggered by new technologies or innovative organizational structures: hydro and steam power paved the way for mechanization, the general restructuring of work processes formed the basis for mass production and microelectronics helped to automate machinery and production plants.

Today, we find ourselves at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution. It is characterized by the extensive networking of human resources, machinery, resources and products. Up to now, it had been hard to imagine the high degree of autonomy in industrial processes that now exists. On the one hand, this development was driven by technologies that allow the communication among various real and virtual objects – including across continents. On the other hand, current market dynamics create a pressure that forces organizations to act. They need to cope with ever changing requirements – from commodity prices up to their customers’ expectations.

Flexibility has become the skill that makes the difference for these organizations. Industry 4.0 – the current buzzword that stands for the fourth industrial revolution – can significantly develop this skill and, thus, help to realize a noticeable competitive edge.

For instance, the high-tech association BITKOM anticipates an enormous potential and forecasts an additional added value of a total of EUR 78 million for the year 2025. However, how do companies in Germany view this topic and how do they prepare for the imminent revolution? The present study for which we surveyed 227 decision-makers from the automotive and manufacturing industries has the answers.

The most surprising result: The concept of Industry 4.0 was not generally known – a total of 24 % of the respondents were not familiar with this term, among the OEM as many as 34 %. 35 % of all respondents did not know whether their own company was dealing with this topic. At the same time, the study showed that many of the technologies and concepts that can be subsumed under Industry 4.0 are actually considered important and useful. But still: there is hardly any business organization that intends to make a commitment to this course of action. In the opinion of many decision-makers, the economic benefit is still too vague and the risks – think safety – are perceived as too high.

For Germany as a business and investment location, the real risk, however, lies in the reluctance of business organizations to give up their hesitant attitude. Dieter Kempf, BITKOM chairman, supported this when he said: “If we do not implement Industry 4.0, others certainly will. And if we wish to realize it, we will have to do so quickly, since our global competitors have been dealing with this topic for a while. So let us get going!“


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