Industry 4.0 will significantly change R&D processes – Study

March 31, 2015

67 percent of German companies expect development times in industry to reduce in the future as the result of Industry 4.0. Three out of four companies are also convinced that in the future suppliers and customers will be much more involved in research and development (R+D). According to the first ever “German Industry 4.0 index”, development processes will thus undergo considerable change over the coming years. For this study, 140 industrial firms in Germany were surveyed by Staufen Management Consultancy.

However, there is also no doubt that – in addition to closer networking – the predominant demand is for lean development and production processes in order to really raise the smart factory potential. “Lean Management and Industry 4.0 go hand in hand. Industry 4.0 should only come to bear once all processes have undergone lean transformation. Otherwise, defects in networked production could quickly cause chaos,” explains Dr Ulrich Frenzel, Business Unit Director at Staufen AG.

The clear majority of those companies that have already specifically looked into the topic of Industry 4.0 has a clear focus on production. However, change is on the horizon: a third of companies have their eyes set on R&D as an application target in the very near future. At present, production components are often only retrospectively adapted to Industry 4.0, e.g. through the application of additional sensors. “Smart components could develop a far greater potential if they were included at an early stage in the development of a product,” as Staufen consultant Frenzel points out.

“Alongside the digital factory, product development is also becoming increasingly more digitalised,” confirms Johann Soder, Executive Director for Technology at transmission manufacturer SEW-Eurodrive. “Classic CAD data are rendered superfluous, because in the future there will only be one model that serves as the basis for construction, simulation and the conduct of virtual tests.”

But the intelligent Industry 4.0 will not only respond faster and more individually to customer requirements. The main expectation of companies is that networked parts will be able to learn from their errors. More than 80% of interviewees from the German Industry 4.0 index believe in a lower error rate thanks to Industry 4.0. How the development towards a smart factory can be expanded further will be one of the key topics at this year’s Staufen AG BestPractice Day in early June.

BestPractice Day 2015: The leading Lean Management congress in Europe

At the BestPractice Day 2015 from 08 to 10 June 2015 in Darmstadt, companies and leading Lean Management experts will report about their experiences on the path to developing successful value creation systems. A focus this year: Industry 4.0 and Lean.

For more information about the event, please visit:

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