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Oct 26, 2017

Ready for Industry 4.0? Exchange of ideas on companies' readiness for Industry 4.0

Are German machine and plant manufacturers well enough prepared for Industry 4.0? At this year's UID event "Austausch im Dialog" (dialogue for exchanging ideas), the participants discussed their experiences with regard to this question. The dialogues gave them valuable impulses for their daily work. Two additional aspects of Industry 4.0 were highlighted in presentations on augmented reality and on the development of digital business models. This was already the tenth occasion at which experts from the mechanical engineering industry met for the "Austausch im Dialog" event at UID Ludwigsburg.

A self-assessment based on the readiness dimensions developed by the German Engineering Association VDMA ( laid the foundation for the discussion. These six dimensions include a six-level scale: Do machine and plant manufacturers already exploit the potentials of digitalization and networking for themselves and their customers? Is there a company-wide strategy? Are the staff well enough prepared for Industry 4.0? Based on this scale, the participants assess the level of implementation of Industry 4.0 in their company and define the goals they want to reach in five years.

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The result: Many participants have already mastered the first milestones on their way to Industry 4.0 but there are many unexploited potentials and questions to be answered. "It is important not to be deterred by the great challenges of Industry 4.0 and to take many small steps in the right direction instead of not moving at all. It doesn't have to be the grand beacon project. Sometimes a small ray of light is enough," explains Franz Koller, UID's Managing Director.

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Challenge of Big Data

Big Data is one of the issues that cause quite a headache. But one thing is clear: By collecting and analyzing consumption data and machine parameters, the production as a whole as well as individual processes can be optimized, e. g. by predictive maintenance. This is opposed, however, by many customers who have reservations when it comes to making production data accessible to the machine manufacturers via a cloud, as the participants at the "Austausch im Dialog" event reported. Together, they discussed solutions for convincing customers of the added value of Big Data.

Digital services

The age of digitalization requires companies to do more than offering just a product – they need to create holistic, connected product and service portfolios. To achieve this, clever business models enabling companies to unearth the treasures of digitalization are needed. In his presentation, UID's Managing Director Franz Koller explained how service design methods can serve to create user-centered services. Amongst others, he introduced the business model canvas, whose nine key factors can be used to systematically develop new business models. Learn more!

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The future within reach

Augmented reality in the production process – while this sounded like an unrealistic vision not so long ago, Microsoft's HoloLens brought it within reach. It is the first augmented reality device that does not require additional computers to be set up. This makes it the ideal tool for testing industrial usage cases – from maintenance to diagnostics or guided learning. In his presentation, UID's Martin Gmür explained the technology behind the HoloLens and gave tips for developing proprietary applications. And in order to combine theory with practice, the participants set about trying out the HoloLens themselves.

"We are delighted that the tenth "Austausch im Dialog" event was supported by top-class experts from the machine and plant manufacturing industry. The discussions about Industry 4.0 were very inspiring. This exchange of ideas always provides valuable input – not only for the participants but also for our own work," says Franz Koller, summing up the event.

Would you like to participate, too? Then send us a message.

We will be happy to supply you with the UID presentations on HoloLens and new business models in the age of digitalization (in German).

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