Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO

Industry 4.0 – impact and potential of the digital transformation

Digitalization is radically impacting our economy and society. Everything is becoming more dynamic, more volatile and changing at a tremendous pace. The ongoing developments especially in artificial intelligence and robotics, big data and machine learning as well as generative manufacturing and virtual reality are leading to the emergence of new digital business models and changes in work processes. New forms of human-technology interaction are everywhere – Industry 4.0 is the buzzword. Besides the potential for more process efficiency and higher productivity created in this context, companies in all industries see themselves confronted with increasing challenges with regard to innovation as well as completely new products and service offerings. It is clear: the future of the working world will be different – and shaping this future is the task of all those players involved in the process.

1 Industry 4.0 – living and working

in the system of systems

Networking via the internet as a central infrastructure is taking on increasingly significant dimensions in the context of Industry 4.0 – already by 2015, the number of networked devices exceeded the global population by a factor of three. Intelligent and autonomously controlled objects, mobile devices, cognitive systems and collaboration platforms will lead to work statuses and company processes being modelled in real time, transparent and largely automated in future (Figure 1).

The merging of the physical and virtual world is...

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