Since the beginning of industrialization, this path has been characterized by constant change. Therefore, international competitiveness in particular is of great importance for companies. This is because standard products can be produced cheaply overseas, even in good to very good quality. The strength of companies, especially SMEs, must therefore lie in efficient production characterized by flexibility, high availability and productivity.
To achieve this, holistic approaches that can be summarized under the buzzword Industry 4.0, such as intelligent and flexible automation and digitization or IT support for the organization, must be implemented in a manageable way that is suitable for SMEs. This transformation process must be flanked by a change management concept that prepares employees for the changes in the working environment, widespread IT use, more automation, etc. that accompany the transformation.
Development of SME-oriented robot-based automation
In the field of automation, the flexibility and productivity required in the Industrie 4.0 area can only be achieved through the large-scale use of industrial robots. One goal here is to support or replace manual manufacturing processes, which are currently difficult to automate, with adaptable and safe human-machine interaction systems. This will lead to an increase in productivity with reproducible quality and more flexible manufacturing with a focus on product variety.
Development of an SME-oriented Manufacturing Execution System (MES) for Industry 4.0 scenarios
Due to their complexity and architecture, classic MES systems are often only suitable for larger SMEs and corporations. The use of cyber-physical systems that entail "ubiquitous computing" (as everyone is already familiar with from their private lives through the use of smart phones, tablets and cloud services) now enables lean, distributed, cloud-based solutions for the production organization as well, in order to provide IT support for the (production) organization even for small companies.