Mechanical engineering progression with Industry 4.0

Digitalised, connected production is becoming the norm and hopes are high that the transatlantic free trade agreement TTIP will soon be concluded.

While many predict that the USA will take the lead for Industry 4.0, the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) disagrees. “Germany’s mechanical engineering companies have demonstrated that they are not only on an equal footing with the Americans when it comes to the introduction of Industry 4.0, but ahead of them in many regards. A huge range of practical examples proves that the new production methods and business models are being implemented ever more widely. This trend will intensify in the coming years,” Thilo Brodtmann, Executive Director of VDMA.

He added, “The President of the United States Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel clearly advocate free trade and the agreement between Europe and the USA, which is why we are so optimistic about the upcoming rounds of negotiations.”

“German automation technology companies, in particular, presented groundbreaking solutions for Industry 4.0,” said VDMA deputy executive director Hartmut Rauen.

Companies know their customers’ needs and the requirements of modern production inside out, and have used this knowledge to draw the right conclusions from the abundance of data.

“We can do big data and big thinking,” affirmed Rauen.

Guidelines & Recommendations

VDMA recognised, years ago, that software would also play a decisive role in mechanical engineering. The growing strategic significance of digitalisation in mechanical engineering prefaced the decision to rename the VDMA Software Association as the Software and Digitalization Association.

In talks with Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, VDMA President Dr Reinhold Festge emphasised that the mechanical engineering sector is hoping to improve framework conditions for domestic production, especially in the fast expansion of the broadband network. Festge has encouraged the Minister to continue to advocate the TTIP free trade agreement, despite resistance from trade unions. 

At VDMA’s reception for European policy, he presented EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and US Trade Representative Michael Froman with a paper containing the Association’s expectations for the agreement, in which was a great interest in security and product piracy.

For many companies, ensuring the security of their data is a major challenge while progressing towards Industy 4.0. Security deficiencies are seen as the greatest hindrance to the implementation of Industry 4.0, so guidelines on Industy 4.0 Security published by VDMA, along with the recommendations for action were very well received. These guidelines help companies to accurately evaluate the necessary security measures in their plants.