Industry 4.0 is a practical term and stands for a project of the German Federal Government. In science, the influence of technology on classical production as well as the networking of people and machines is investigated, such as the integration of technologies such as sensor technology, 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI).

In the course of my research, I have examined two recent studies on Industry 4.0 and would like to summarize and compare them in the following.

Study 1: Bitkom

In the first selected study, more than 550 industrial companies of different sizes were interviewed by Bitkom (2019) on the topic of Industry 4.0. More than half of the companies surveyed say that first use cases are used by Industry 4.0. 21% of the companies surveyed also plan to expand them. A special field of application is the linking of machines to the Internet in order to enable a link and a targeted data evaluation.

According to the majority of the companies surveyed, 20-50% of machines in production are currently connected to the Internet. According to the companies surveyed, the benefits currently visible are primarily increasing productivity, predictability of maintenance and optimising processes in production. Overall, the benefits seem to be small at the moment. The figure shows other advantages.

Current advantages that the surveyed companies perceive through the use of Industry 4.0 (own figure according to Bitkom 2019)

According to the study, the current implementation of Industry 4.0 requires further investment and the recruitment of skilled workers. For example, companies currently invest a majority of about 5% of their turnover in technologies associated with Industry 4.0. In addition, 50% of companies believe that these projects require the search for new IT and production specialists. According to the study, more than two-thirds of the skilled workers sought have an academic background and could displace professionals with a training background. In addition to the numerous opportunities shown in the following figure, there are also risks that companies currently see as obstacles to projects in the context of Industry 4.0. In particular, high investment costs, aspects of data protection and security, and a shortage of skilled workers are to be mentioned. Further results are shown in the following figure.

Obstacles to Industry 4.0 (own image after Bitkom 2019)

Study 2: Saarbrücken Centre of Excellence

The second selected study was carried out in 2017 by the Saarbrücken Competence Centre. With the help of almost 340 interviews with IT managers of production companies, aspects of Industry 4.0 were examined. The main results of the study are that almost 80% of the participants are currently carrying out projects with an association with Industry 4.0. In particular, the participants noted initial successes after three months (small efficiencies) for individual measures. For larger projects, more than two-thirds of the participants expect that the first potentials, concretely sales increases and competitive advantages, will only become apparent after three years.

But how does this study differ from Bitkom? difference can be found in the potentials. These are as follows:

  • competitive advantage (44%),
  • Cost savings (40.7%) And
  • Speed of processes (38%).

The study also examined possible obstacles to Industry 4.0, although the data are also slightly different from the first study. For example, the shortage of skilled workers does not play a role here. According to the study, the main obstacles are:

  • Hacker attacks (47%),
  • Industrial espionage (29.7%),
  • Production losses (29.5%) And
  • Legal problems (26.3%).

The central point in both studies is almost always the high cost of Industry 4.0 projects. The highest costs are licensing, training, and hardware costs.

Relevance of the cost factors of Industry 4.0 projects in companies (own figure according to competence center Saarbrücken 2017).

Conclusion

Industry 4.0 is increasingly being used in Germany and is also to be expanded slowly. However, there are obstacles that prevent companies from significantly increasing projects. According to the companies, the high costs in particular are a high risk.

Sources

Bitkom. (2019). Industry 4.0 – Study. Retrieved May 19, 2020, from https://www.bitkom.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/bitkom-pressekonferenz_industrie_4.0_01_04_2019_prasentation_0.pdf

Competence Center-Saarbrücken. (2017). IDG Study Industry 4.0. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://kompetenzzentrum-saarbruecken.digital/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IDG-Studie2017-Industrie4.0.pdf

Source: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/gabelstapler-lagerhaus-maschine-835340/

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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