Despite the high potential of Industry 4.0 in SMEs, the main limitation lies in a lack of concrete models for its implementation and application in small and medium-sized enterprises.   Thus the research project aims at closing and overcoming this gap through the creation of an international and interdisciplinary research network.
The three main objectives of the project (and the specific research questions for each of them) are:
  1. Identifying the need and enablers for Industry 4.0 applications and implementation in SME Manufacturing and Logistics;
  • What are actual known concepts and technologies of Industry 4.0?
  • What are the main opportunities/risks for the use of these concepts in SMEs?
  • How suitable are the different concepts for application in SMEs (assessment of SME suitability)?
  • What are SME-specific functional requirements for the adaptation of the most promising concepts and technologies?
  1. Creating SME-specific concepts and strategies for smart and intelligent SME Manufacturing and Logistics;
  • What are possible forms or migration levels for realizing smart and intelligent Manufacturing Systems for X-to-order and Mass Customization Production?
  • How can Automation, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, ICT and CPS improve productivity in SME Manufacturing and Logistics?
  • What are suitable models for smart and lean supply chains in SME Logistics?
  1. Developing specific organization and management models for smart SMEs
  • What are innovative and promising new business models for smart SMEs?
  • What are optimal implementation strategies for the introduction of Industry 4.0 in SMEs?
  • What are ideal organizational models for smart SMEs or SME networks

Further general objectives of the research project in relation to the European Community are:
  • Ensure the transfer of Industry 4.0 to SMEs through adapted template models
  • Maintain and develop the competitive level of European SMEs
  • Accelerate the transition of Industry 4.0 from research to practice
  • Maintain the prosperity of the European population by securing jobs
  • Development and career progress of European experts and qualified young scientists in SME-research for Industry 4.0.
 The applicability of results is ensured through a close collaboration with a European small and medium size enterprise (non-academic partner) from mass customization industry.