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Germany Announces Five Industry 4.0 Competence Centers for SMEs

Posted By Paul Tate, September 28, 2015 at 5:21 AM, in Category: Factories of the Future

The_Agile_factory_aprisoart1.pngLast week, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) appointed its first five Centers of Competence to help support the country’s small- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises in the development and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies.

One of the new Centers of Competence is led by the pioneering SmartFactoryKL Technology Initiative, based in Kaiserslautern and established 10 years ago by founding chairman Prof. Detlef Zühlke, also a member of the Manufacturing Leadership Board of Governors.

“As the birthplace of the Industry 4.0 paradigm, I am very happy that we have been selected as one of the five new Centers so that we can help to guide German industry, especially SMEs, into the Industry 4.0 era,” said Zühlke. 

Backed by $31 million of German federal funds over the next three years, the new Centers are structured on a regional basis across Germany, rather than each having a specific technology focus as with the US network of Innovation Institutes. The SmartFactoryKL center will serve the Rhineland-Platine region, while the other four centres will be based in Hannover, Dortmund/Paderborn, Darmstadt and Berlin.

Each centre will focus on four key tasks - establishing five demonstration projects over the three year period, consultancy services to help SME’s adopt Industry 4.0 approaches and technologies, worker training for shop floor level employees, and information search and dissemination facilities.

The centers are also designed as regional partnerships. The Kaiserslautern Center, for example, will combine the advanced industrial expertise of the 40-member SmartFactory Initiative, the Technical University of Kaiserslautern on basic research, the German Center for Artificial Intelligence (DKFI) on applied research, the Institute for Technology and Work, and a planned shared research space for companies wanting to pursue new Industry 4.0 developments.

This is only the first phase of the German government’s Industry 4.0 adoption strategy for SMEs. Over the next year or so, the BMWi aims to announce up to 16 Industry 4.0 Centers of Competence across the country. 

Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive


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