Automatic & networked production


DKE  German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE
Stresemannallee 15
60596 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49 69 6308-0
Fax: +49 69 6308-9863

Industry 4.0 is all about the close integration of machinery and plant engineering, automation engineering and IT. One of its defining characteristics is the further development and use of modern automation, communication and information technologies intended to open up new production and logistics possibilities for users.

Germany is one of the world's leading industrial nations and is competing to provide the best Industry 4.0 solutions. Industrial production and production-related services in Germany account for more than half the country's total economic output. Germany is leading the way in many digital innovations for production technology, but is exposed to increasing competition. In order to gain an edge in the race for the products and markets of tomorrow, it is imperative for Germany to adopt an integrated approach and engage in interdisciplinary cooperation. Standards are essential for the successful global marketing and practical implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions. A constellation of stakeholders from the business, science and political fields has been established in Germany and is described below.

Looking at the technical debate surrounding Industry 4.0, it becomes clear that human beings will still be working in the intelligent production facilities of the future. The role of people in the socio-technical work system thus deserves special consideration. People will continue to play a central role in production – as participants in the manufacturing process, as machine operators, maintenance engineers, production planners or programmers. In order to design an efficient and flexible yet sustainably successful work system it is important to incorporate people with all their abilities, skills, capabilities and capacity limits into the design.

The fourth industrial revolution and its influencing factors – such as new types of contracts, the networking and exchange of data and a changed working environment – also need to be analysed from a legal perspective. Laws provide the framework within which standards operate, but the influence of standards also feeds back into law-making. This interaction must be taken into account above all in shaping the standards.

Standardization Council Industry 4.0

German industry announced the establishment of the Industry 4.0 Standardization Council at the 2016 Hanover Fair. The goal of this initiative (based on Bitkom, DIN, DKE/VDE, VDMA and ZVEI) is to initiate digital production standards and to coordinate them nationally and internationally.

SCI 4.0 liaises between industry and standardization, i.e. mediates between the members of the Industrie 4.0 platform and the various standards developing organizations (SDOs). SCI 4.0 plays an important bundling role here. The aim is to develop ambitious yet feasible recommendations for action for all participants, including the national and international initiation and coordination of suitable standards. A further aim is to accelerate the relevant standardization processes and strengthen the international competitiveness of Germany as an industrial base.

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What are the aims of Industry 4.0 standards?

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Making complexity manageable

The intelligent roll-out of Industry 4.0 is characterized by an unprecedented level of automation with extensive use of the Internet. Different systems have to communicate and interact with each other. Interfaces must be harmonized for this to succeed. This in turn presupposes that the design of these interfaces is based on standards that are properly coordinated internationally.

The main human roles are those of developers and users who control, monitor and, if necessary, intervene in the ongoing processes. Interaction and communication between factories (and their machines) transcend company and operational boundaries. Companies from a wide range of industries, such as suppliers, logistics companies and manufacturers, are thus networked in a value creation system.

Consumers now take the following connections for granted: USB cables which connect the printer to the laptop, Bluetooth technology which transfers music files from the MP3 player to the mobile phone and back. The communication functions more or less perfectly – because the manufacturers of the various components have agreed on common interfaces. This is a standardization process which pre-defines the mechanisms for cooperation and which now awaits industry. So-called reference architectures are defined for this purpose: ideal models that provide the framework for the development, integration and operation of the relevant technical systems.

Developing a common language and descriptions

A reference architecture, i.e. a uniform concept and method structure, forms the basis of this. It creates a common structure and language for the uniform description and specification of concrete system architectures for applications. The Industry 4.0 platform has yielded a proposal for a neutral reference architecture model RAMI 4.0 which is the basis for further work of the platform. Building on this, a description of what constitutes an Industry 4.0 component and how this can be encapsulated in an administrative shell is now required in collaboration with the expert committees. In addition, the reference architecture model can be used as the basis for developing an Industry 4.0 ontology, grammar and semantics, and thus a common language. This requires cooperation across sector and industry boundaries. An integrated approach to Industry 4.0 and its ontology is arising through the cooperation of the mechanical and plant engineering, automation technology, IT and manufacturing application industries.


Dr. Michael Rudschuck
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What is the focus of Industry 4.0 standards?

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Standardization is of central importance for the future success of the Industry 4.0 project. Industry 4.0 requires unprecedented integration of systems across domain and hierarchy boundaries, and life cycle phases. This is only possible on the basis of consensus-based standards. Standardization is a joint task that is self-managed by the stakeholders (users, occupational safety organizations, trade unions, public authorities, regulatory institutions, other non-governmental organizations, environmental protection organizations, consumer protection agencies, industry, science and research), their experts and DIN and DKE employees.

Automation engineering

Until now, the structuring and organization of technical-organizational business processes has been the exclusive domain of users, application providers and tool manufacturers. The application areas include: diagnostics, maintenance, life cycle management, system integration, optimization, security management. Cybersecurity is also a cross-cutting automation issue.

IT and functional safety

When safety-based control systems perform their safety functions reliably, we speak of functional safety (FS). Cybersecurity, on the other hand, is all about the protection of IT systems from unauthorized actions. Although cybersecurity is different from functional safety, there are certain similarities: for example, if the system concerned is a security-based control system, any impairment of its function also affects (functional) safety. It is important to close these safety gaps, especially in view of the current convergence of technologies. In the case of threats to cybersecurity that have consequences for functional safety, it is practically impossible to assess the risk and translate this into an expected failure rate. It has not yet been possible to arrive at a reliable prediction of expected failure rates.

This was reason enough for VDE experts to work together in order to find a generic solution to this important yet complex problem.

Other related fields and disciplines are:

  • eMobility
  • Open Source
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Smart Grid
  • Smart Health
  • Smart Farming
  • Platform Economy / Digital Value Creation Models
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What everyday benefits are to be gained from Industry 4.0 standards?

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Orientation to the new innovation platform

"Germany specializes in research, development and the manufacture of production technologies and is the world's leading supplier of factory equipment."

This introductory sentence from the implementation recommendations of the Industry 4.0 Working Group formed by the Industry and Science Research Union provides a good indication of the importance of this industrial sector for Germany. It applies equally to many other industrial regions in Europe. Industry 4.0 standardization is an essential element in the concrete implementation of the vision. Therefore, the German standardization organizations now have to address the topic and coordinate preparation of Industry 4.0 at the content and organizational level in order to support the current industrial, political and research activities as effectively as possible. Once again, the support of practitioners from research and industry is needed in order to integrate all current developments into the standardization processes at an early stage and to accord them the attention they deserve.

DKE's Industry 4.0 tasks

Industry 4.0 is the new industrial revolution and holds huge value-added potential of over 200 billion euros in Germany alone.

DKE has been working for years with over 800 technical experts on building the foundations of the future of industry because Industry 4.0 needs networking, safety, communication, intelligence and trust – for technological progress, economic success and safety for people and the environment.

Shape the future of industry together with us!