Industry 4.0 pioneer

Originally launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and acatech (the German National Academy of Science and Engineering), the strategic initiative Industry 4.0 is intended to support and actively shape the transition to a modern industry. The Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL is considered to be the largest and most concrete project in the context of Industry 4.0.

The potential in the transition to Industry 4.0 is set against a wide range of technological, organizational and societal challenges that can only be overcome through close interaction between factory outfitters and manufacturing companies. Factory outfitters must position themselves as lead suppliers in order to further develop existing basic technologies and adapt to production requirements. Manufacturers must create markets that allow intelligent technical systems to be built and run in production. This interaction, called a dual strategy, is an essential part of the strategic initiative Industry 4.0.

With a structure dominated by the electrical industry and by mechanical and plant engineering, it’s OWL embodies this dual strategy. The cluster companies Beckhoff, Harting, KEB, Lenze, Phoenix Contact, Wago and Weidmüller, for example, hold 75% of the global market share for electronic connector technology. As factory outfitters, they set standards in the field of industrial automation. These developments also benefit machinery and equipment manufacturers, who can look forward to considerable potential for innovation due to the use of intelligent technical systems. Supplemented by a strong research community, the Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL pools expertise and needs.

By implementing 46 research projects worth a total of around EUR 100 million, it’s OWL also delivers concrete products, technologies and solutions for using intelligent technical systems in industrial applications. The aim is to develop modules to make the idea of Industry 4.0 a reality. There are many diverse applications, from automation components for adaptable production to a self-optimizing factory. These are underpinned by research on subjects such as plug-and-produce, self-X, human-machine interaction or systems engineering.

The cluster pools the technologies required for this innovative leap in a technology platform produced during cross-sectional projects. Working from this technology platform, industrial cluster partners carry out innovation projekts to develop products, production systems and services for a variety of target markets. The technology platform also serves as the basis for technology transfer, facilitating access to Industry 4.0 for medium-sized manufacturing firms in particular.