The 2015 Hannover Messe trade fair saw the launch of the Industrie 4.0 platform - operated by government, companies, business associations, science, and trade unions. Together with the relevant partners and players, the government wants to use the newly extended platform to actively tap the potential that digitisation offers for business. Following on from the success of the Industrie 4.0 business association platform - originally set up by the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), and the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI) - the updated platform has now placed the topic of the fourth industrial revolution on a broader political footing and has also undergone a thematic and structural overhaul. The new Industrie 4.0 platform is being headed by Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Research Minister Johanna Wanka, as well as key representatives from industry and industrial associations, Industriegewerkschaft Metall (the German Metalworkers' Union), and the Fraunhofer Society.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel said: "In the future, digitisation will have a major impact on the way we in Germany live, work, and manufacture. Today, we are setting important foundations that will enable us to compete for the products and markets of tomorrow. This is why, when it comes to Industrie 4.0, we especially need to build upon our strengths in Germany in order to maintain our excellent position. This is our shared goal as we join forces with business, science, and employee representatives in the Industrie 4.0 platform 'Made in Germany'." 

Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka said: "In 2011, Industrie 4.0 was named in research as a project of the future. Today, the concept is the underlying standard for the restructuring of German industry to make it fit for the future Industrie 4.0 now needs to developed so that it can be applied in practice. This requires greater cooperation between all of the relevant actors, as well as specific applications that are taken from practice for use in practice elsewhere. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is therefore pressing ahead with the transfer from research into production."

The actors involved in the Industrie 4.0 platform work in interdisciplinary working groups on standardisation, research, and security. The platform also focuses on the areas of law, labour, and training. The first tangible results from the working groups are to be developed by the end of the year and presented at the IT Summit in November 2015. The companies involved are already working together to implement results in practice.

The implementation strategy, which was developed by the former Industrie 4.0 business association platform, was handed over today and forms the basis for all future work. It not only records the research agenda that has been pursued to date, but also lays out core components of Industrie 4.0. Given the complex and broad starting point of the new platform, a framework is to be established that allows for Industrie 4.0 reference architecture to developed - a set of parameters that can be used in order to press ahead with digitisation and comprehensive networking in production.

Dr Siegfried Dais, head of the steering committee for the Industrie 4.0 platform and shareholder of Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG (industrial trust), said: "The Industrie 4.0 business association platform worked on Industrie 4.0 in an interdisciplinary manner and with the greatest of dedication, raising awareness for the topic within industry, government, and among the general public. The results from the working groups are also an important foundation for the continued success of Industrie 4.0 and will serve to strengthen Germany's outstanding position in international competition."

The platform's governing body includes leading representatives from the three key areas linked to Industrie 4.0 - machinery and plant construction, electrical engineering / electronics, and the ICT industry - as well as representatives from Industriegewerkschaft Metall (the German Metalworkers' Union) and the Fraunhofer Society:

  • Prof. Siegfried Russwurm, Member of the Board of Management, Siemens AG;
  • Dr. Eberhard Veit, Chairman of the Board of Management, Festo AG & Co. KG;
  • Bernd Leukert, Member of the Board of Management, SAP SE;
  • Reinhard Clemens, Member of the Board of Management, Deutsche Telekom AG;
  • Ulrich Grillo, President, Bundesverbands der Deutschen Industrie e. V. (Federation of German Industries) (BDI);
  • Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President, Fraunhofer Society, and
  • Jörg Hofmann, Vice Chairman, German Metalworkers' Union (IG Metall).

The work conducted by the scientific advisory committee will continue to be supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The working groups are being led by industry specialists. Expert groups within the initiative are made up of industry representatives, as well as representatives from government, business, business associations, science, and trade unions. The working groups are supported by a dedicated coordination office at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The three business associations - VDMA, ZVEI and BITKOM - will continue to play an important role in this work.

The new structure of the Industrie 4.0 platform can be viewed on the websites of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.