The intention is to make Germany both a leading supplier and a leading market for new IT-based solutions for industrial production. Many studies have shown that a strong industrial sector – i.e. factories and their suppliers – is the basis for prosperity in a modern economy. In this regard, Germany currently takes pole position within Europe. Industry 4.0 is a way of maintaining and expanding this position. Of course, technology is not the only aspect of this. We also require suitable education, training, corporate cultures, business models, etc. All these areas are also a part of Industry 4.0 and are receiving the corresponding attention.
Are research projects being protected from imitators in China and India?
In principle, the results of research projects are open to all. This means they are also accessible to our economic rivals. So we can only direct our efforts at maintaining a relative competitive advantage. And programmes such as Industry 4.0 are crucial for achieving precisely this. These kinds of programmes help us stay two or three years ahead of other economies. Apart from that, the knowhow required for projects is in the minds of those people working on them. So in that regard there is a measure of protection from imitation.
These questions were answered by Dr Olaf Sauer of the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB).