Step-by-step to Industrie 4.0

Maturity Index helps manufacturer create a roadmap for the future.


Photo by Jezael Melgoza on UnsplashAlthough they know about the advantages of self-organizing production, European companies lag behind in comparison with companies internationally. The reason for this in Germany is the tendency to reorganize the complete production right from the start instead of aiming for a goal in small steps and with individual pilot projects. In addition, there is uncertainty about the best software and to which standards the companies should adhere.

In order to provide guidance, the Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften (acatech) developed the Industrie 4.0 Maturity Index. Leading German universities and industry partners, among them TÜV SÜD, participated. As a multidimensional maturity model, the index not only assesses the status quo of digital transformation, it also helps to create individual roadmaps and to prioritize measures on the road to Production 4.0. The Maturity Index is especially suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises that quickly want to become viable for the future.

Digital transformation across all divisions

The Maturity Index is based on an extended understanding of Industrie 4.0 matters relating to technology. In order to benefit from new technologies, companies need to adjust their organizational structures as well as their culture. The goal is an agile company that is able to respond to changes in its surroundings by means of fast, information-based decisions. The Maturity Index helps companies to achieve this. For this purpose, the Maturity Index takes into consideration four structural areas:

  1. Resources: workforce and their competencies, machinery and equipment, tools, products

  2. Information systems: socio-technical systems in which information is provided and processed by both people and information and communication technology

  3. Organizational structure: rules and structures guiding the relationships within the company as well as externally

  4. Culture: value system within the company, e.g., employees’ willingness to review and adapt their behavior in response to changes.

The procedure is structured in three phases:

  • Phase 1 Review of current situation: Based on a questionnaire, a site tour, and expert workshops, the company’s maturity stage is assessed in the five functional areas: development, production, logistics, services, marketing, and sales.

  • Phase 2 Target definition: Based on an as-is analysis, company-specific strategic development targets are defined. A gap analysis shows the differences between the target and current situation and highlights in which fields the company needs to take action in order to meet their target.

  • Phase 3 Roadmap: Subsequently, specific measures are derived. Using an indicator system and a cost-benefit matrix, experts evaluate which measures are particularly suited to increase the company’s maturity stage. Those are then included in the roadmap.

Pilot project shows potential

The successful implementation of a roadmap is shown in the example of a supplier for energy and signal technology. With more than 4,000 employees at several manufacturing facilities, the company manufactures industrial connectors, device connection technology, and network components used for automation. The product range comprises radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions. The company’s high affinity to information technologies is already apparent.

The internal Industrie 4.0 project group regularly implements new use cases. The realization of the Industrie 4.0 Maturity Index was easy: the production situation was evaluated in only four days. As expected, a high maturity stage was determined.

The supplier set up a pilot project where different die cutters spread over all company sites were equipped with structure-borne sound in order to be able to measure vibrations. Conditions were monitored precisely and the systems maintained as required. The measured data provide information on when a cutter is worn out and the components are cut outside the tolerance range.

This process was locally-monitored until the pilot project began. The linking and analysis of the data in real time allowed the comparison of the targeted optimizations across production lines. This meant the best maintenance measures generally were rolled out and further monitored.

The roadmap comprised more than 30 measures which identified where the monitored systems could be improved. Delivery reliability and production flexibility also were further improved. In the past, establishment of a project group and the identification of such projects often took several months. With the Maturity Index, it was possible to select and evaluate projects much faster.

Projects and use cases were implemented significantly earlier, and their benefits were assessed faster and more precisely. Plant leadership received an information base they could use to decide whether the implementation within the complete production made sense or not.

Industrie 4.0 only with IT- Security 4.0

The capability to take fast and precise decisions is a prerequisite to keep their industrial connectors, device connection technology, and network components, as well as RFID solutions, competitive in the future. But there is still a risk factor that applies to all companies that take the plunge towards Industrie 4.0: they rely on data provided by the sensor and component manufacturers.

There should always be two redundant communication paths for data-dependent production because when data is communicated without protection, it can be manipulated. IT security thus must become an integral part of all Industrie 4.0 developments—for example, the security standard IEC 62443 for industrial automation and control systems.

As one of the first providers, TÜV SÜD introduced the certification. Experts analyze control and guide systems with regard to potential weaknesses and develop effective protective measures that ensure system integrity. Because Industrie 4.0 can only work with IT Security 4.0.

Dr. Bertolt Gärtner is president and CEO of TÜV SÜD ATISAE and an Industrie 4.0 implementation expert based in Spain.

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