There are more than 200 practical examples that demonstrate that innovative processes for linking plant equipment, IT systems and business models more closely are already being developed and implemented by companies and research institutions. A map entitled ‘use cases Industrie 4.0’ shows where Industrie 4.0 solutions are already being used in Germany today.

Mittelstand 4.0 centres of excellence

Regional ‘Mittelstand 4.0 centres of excellence’ that receive funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and the Centre of Excellence for the ‘Digitalisation of Skilled Crafts’ help German SMEs become more aware of Industrie 4.0, and provide them with information, training and opportunities to test their Industrie 4.0 applications. Demonstration and learning factories help companies try out new things – under the close eye of industry experts – and put their own technologies, product or customer interfaces to the test before making an investment. These services are supplemented by the work done by the Mittelstand 4.0 agencies: These agencies use multipliers to answer companies’ questions on a host of transversal issues linked to digitalisation – such as cloud computing, digital communication, processes, trade, etc..

Testbeds for SMEs

There are a number of testbeds at dedicated centres at universities and research institutions in Germany where complex production and logistics systems are being assessed, tested and enhanced under real-life conditions. These testbeds are interconnected, which means that production and application processes can be accurately simulated across several test environments. The map of testbeds (in German) shows the location of research and development institutions throughout Germany where Industrie 4.0 applications can be tested.