then deliver products we can export to the global market, to countries where both skills are missing.” Production in Germany is “still very important for the

GDP,” he said in his speech. “Therefore we thought [a few years back] we should make sure this could be continued.” Industrie 4.0 started in late 2010 when Wahlster and a

couple of other educators and government ministers met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and suggested Germany go from embedded systems to networked em- bedded systems and then to cyber-physical production systems—in which all the embedded systems are connect- ed to each other, as well as the Internet. Merkel was put off by “cyber-physical production

systems.” She said it was too complex and needed to be more intuitive to market it to taxpayers, Wahlster said. The academics then came up with “Industrie 4.0.” It is one of 10 “future projects” identified by the German government as part of its High-Tech Strategy 2020 Action Plan. Wahlster publicly introduced the term April 3, 2011, at

a tech fair in Hannover, but it did not catch on until 2012. “Then the revolution started like a rocket.” “Really, It’s all about using cyber-physical systems and

the Internet of Things from the next step in automation and production to end up with so-called smart factories,” he said. “It’s becoming real: We have the first [five] facto- ries in Germany that are fully dedicated to Industrie 4.0, and many of the legacy factories are now in the transfor- mation process.” The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy set up 10 German competency centers for Industrie 4.0—to give advice to small and medium firms, Wahlster said. The first operational smart factory—the smartFactoryKL in Kaiserslautern—is one of the centers. It was built in 2005.

Will SoA save the day? “One of the key disruptions of Industrie 4.0 is service-ori-

ented architecture [SoA],” where products tell the machines what to do, Wahlster said. “This is a complete inversion of traditional manufacturing, which has a manufacturing ex- ecution system controlling all the machines—which is a very bad idea if you have smaller batch sizes and have to adapt your production to many different products.” In Kaiserslautern, Detlef Zühlke, scientific director for In-

novative Factory Systems at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, “built up the first multivendor au- tomation line in the Industrie 4.0 paradigm,” Wahlster said. “There are modules for many different companies,” includ- ing Festo and Bosch Rexroth. “All of these modules you

can plug out of the factory, remove and put in at another place and the production will still continue. “Each and every production unit brings with it a digital self-description of the service it can provide … in a stan- dardized way,” he said. “This means the production ontol- ogy is extended and updated on the fly.”

Why reshoring will happen Zühlke spoke about reshoring at the same Berlin confer-

ence. In recent years, production was often sent away from the US and Europe, to low-wage countries, he noted. “But this will not work any longer because wages are no

longer low, for example, in China; they are going up,” he said. “But much more important is that in the future, the customers will want to have their products much faster. The customer can order his product on the computer using a mouse click. And if you order by a mouse click, you won’t wait for another six weeks to have it delivered from China, for example.” Manufacturers need to prepare for some reshoring of

production from low-labor cost countries, Zühlke said, in part because customers will want highly customized products. “This leads us to much more local production.” SmartFactoryKL, which has 47 members, including IBM, John Deere and Johnson Controls, now needs more partners, including certification organizations, component manufacturers, software providers, security providers, net- work providers and users, Zühlke said.

Next wave: Long-term autonomy Wahlster and colleagues from Germany’s National

Academy of Science and Engineering recently gave a dossier to Merkel about what he called the “next wave” in manufacturing: Systems that have long-term autonomy. “Long-term autonomy means these machines and

robots really keep a kind of diary,” he said in his confer- ence address. “They have an episodic memory, and they become in one sense kind of a computer individual. They have a memory of what they have done and experience with glitches incidents in the factory.” Such autonomous systems are “extremely important for

industrial production,” he said. “And of course in autono- mous mobility, we have been working very hard on the first Volkswagen and BMW and some Mercedes self-driving cars. But not cars like those in the US that go very slow; VW already has an autonomous test car that goes 170. “We don’t want to go 50 km/hour with some [California

Internet] car; We want to have the high-speed cars we are known for in Germany—now in autonomous driving.”


Fall 2016

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