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Industry 4.0-based concepts can also be used by small and medium-sized firms. The technology roadmap (see homepage) shows that there is more than one Industry 4.0, since it has many manifestations. It is not necessary to go for total networking. On the contrary, every firm must decide for itself which aspects it can and wants to use.

Plastics processing does indeed differ from that of metals for example on a number of points: it often involves the mass production of parts, with finished items created in just one or a few steps. But there are also production process commonalities as regards material flow chains, the manufacture of semi-finished or intermediate products and in service/condition monitoring. That is why we believe that Industry 4.0 concerns (almost) everyone. Specific Industry 4.0 applications will be on show at K 2016.

Introducing Industry 4.0 will change the work people do. More and more simple tasks will become automated, while on the other hand new activities requiring a greater understanding of processes will emerge. Industry 4.0 will also help to keep industrial production competitive in a high-wage country like Germany, safeguarding growth and employment. In general terms, we might speak of continuity and change, but the human factor is still at the heart of things. For further information see http://allesbleibt-anders.net.

Machinery networking is not an end in itself. The technology roadmap (see homepage) describes the real benefits for converters of using Industry 4.0-based solutions. Essentially, these are better quality, greater efficiency and increased machine availability.

Much of the technology on which our ideas of Industry 4.0 are based is already with us: data generation in machines, machines being equipped with network interfaces. Networking of machines with manufacturing execution systems (MES) or host computer systems, for example, or for remote maintenance is already a reality. Industry 4.0 requires a rethink, however, so that the data and information generated can be shared so as to create added value. Much of the (r)evolution therefore has to take place in our heads.