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productronica 2013 to promote Industry 4.0

21st October 2013
Nat Bowers

When it opens its doors in Munich from November 12 – 15, 2013, productronica will pay special attention to a future project known as Industry 4.0. A panel of prominent speakers at a CEO Roundtable will also discuss Industry 4.0 on the first day of the fair while the Innovation Forum in Hall B2 will focus on this topic on the third day of the fair.

International, innovative, and without competition - productronica is the only trade fair of its kind that portrays the entire value chain in electronics production – from technologies and components to software and services.

Whether optimized process control, automation or the intelligent planning of resources – the use of software solutions, sensors and embedded systems in electronics manufacturing is diverse. To move the entire production process forward and make it more transparent, future projects such as Industry 4.0 and production-related systems such as MES or ERP will be key factors for the industry. They also improve the transparency of all functions and processes that are critical to the production process.

Half of the increases in productivity in the European economy during the past 15 years can be attributed to innovations in information and communication technology. In the area of software embedded systems, Germany has achieved a leading position, particularly in the automotive and machine-building sectors. Industry 4.0 is part of the German government's high-tech strategy. EUR 200 million in subsidies from Germany's Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Economics are supposed to help to establish Germany as a leading supplier of cyber-physical systems – autonomous, networked microsystems and next step in embedded system development.

"Implementing the visions of Industry 4.0 will bring about fundamental change to the industrial landscape because the machines learn and organize themselves as they work. That, in turn, gives rise to highly stable production quality combined with optimum production-facility output," comments Dieter Meuser, CTO at iTAC Software.

Important objectives in the transformation process to CPS are even stronger automation and monitoring to be able to control companies and entire added-value networks nearly in real time. International exhibitors of manufacturing and process software will be represented at the fair and present their solutions for the electronics industry as a basis for implementing Industry 4.0.

A pioneer: SOPRO at productronica 2009

productronica has always been a driving force behind innovations for the electronics-manufacturing industry and demonstrates its leading role time and again. Self-organizing production (SOPRO), the project that preceded Industry 4.0, was introduced at productronica in 2009: Machines and workpieces communicated with one another viachips and learned from one another to organize the logistics chain inside and outside the factory and to allocate their work themselves. Under the scientific supervision of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (IPK) and within the scope of the SOPRO project, a consortium of Fraunhofer institutes and the Technical University of Berlin conducted research on the future development of the eGrain process and its networking. Collaboration with the industry was coordinated by the Productronics and Micro Technology Associations and the Working Group for Modular Microsystems in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA).

Dr. Eric Maiser, Managing Director of VDMA Productronics, commented: "Autonomously networked automation makes it possible to optimize the capacity utilization of a factory's machinery, completely coordinate the process chain and process cycle, minimize manufacturing errors and material consumption and, as a result, cut costs. Line integration to the point of the turnkey factory is already creating competitive advantages for the machine-manufacturing sector. In addition to individual machines, manufacturers can offer entire technology packages. Machine manufacturers have had some good experiences in this area, particularly in new markets. Industry 4.0 is the logical continuation of this strategy."

Markets are becoming increasingly complex and multi-layered, so manufacturers must reorient their entire acquisition, manufacturing and provision processes independently of locations, requirements and conditions in the target market. Like global enterprises, smaller companies that only operate one or a few plants must also satisfy extensive requirements and regulations, and they are also part of regional or even global supply networks. It is important for these operations to remain agile, increase productivity and reduce costs without allowing quality to fluctuate. Against this backdrop, the panel of prominent speakers at the CEO Roundtable on November 12 – the first day of the fair – will deal with the topic "Industry 4.0 – Opportunities and Challenges for a Competitive Production of Tomorrow".

Christian Rocke, productronica's Exhibition Director, emphasizes the importance of this topic: "In the foreseeable future, merely monitoring the costs and efficiency of individual manufacturing processes will no longer be sufficient to operate successfully on global markets. In distributed manufacturing, worldwide processes must be implemented, but regional standards must also be maintained."

That is why the third day of the fair (Thursday, November 14) is devoted entirely to the highlight topic of "Efficient Production Management and Industry 4.0". Trade visitors can gather information and hold discussions in the Innovations Forum in Hall B2 (Stand 345). The VDMA and publisher Konradin Verlag are organizing the event.

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