It is the catchphrase of the last few years. It can be heard at every industrial congress. Talks are held on it, and workshops offered. The major multinationals want it, small and medium-sized businesses want it, and even the German government has it on its agenda: Industry 4.0.
At universities and research institutes, in IT development, consulting, and in the companies themselves, everyone is talking about the chances and opportunities inherent in Industry 4.0. A great deal can be read and heard about the real and virtual worlds in industrial production, cyber-physical systems, globalism, intelligent and self-controlling production processes and the integration of customer processes in the overall workflow.
On the one hand, an image of a future is drawn in which the use of new technologies is a matter of course, in order to develop and sell competitive products and services, and implement new business models. However, this does not reflect reality: product developers face a daily battle to carry out their projects within the prescribed budgets and time frames - under increasingly difficult conditions. Product complexity, globalisation of developments and markets, new legal requirements, cost pressure from low-wage countries, a shortage of qualified young staff – the list of possible obstacles is long. So how can the gap between the optimistic future scenarios and the daily difficulties be bridged? Is it at all possible? Or is Industry 4.0 just a buzzword that will have been replaced by the next trend within a few years?