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Survey Northern Bavarian Companies Meet Industry 4.0

Editor: Nicole Kareta

Northern Bavarian manufacturing companies have made significant progress in the Industry 4.0 area. This is the result of the study "Industry 4.0 in Northern Bavaria - Maturity Measurement 2019", which IW Consult has carried out on behalf of the Northern Bavarian Chambers of Industry and Commerce as in 2016.

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The survey results show that Industry 4.0 is becoming increasingly important for companies in Northern Bavaria.
The survey results show that Industry 4.0 is becoming increasingly important for companies in Northern Bavaria.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pexels )

Industry 4.0 has become a key issue for competitiveness. The principle: People, machines, plants and even products communicate with each other along the entire value chain. This digital and intelligent networking makes development, production, logistics and sales highly efficient; in addition, completely new business models become possible. How far have Northern Bavarian companies progressed in recent years on their way to Industry 4.0? This question was investigated by the survey of the Northern Bavarian Chambers of Industry and Commerce in Nuremberg (lead management), Aschaffenburg, Bayreuth, Coburg, Regensburg and Würzburg-Schweinfurt, for which the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln Consult GmbH (IW Consult) surveyed 459 companies.

The Results of the Survey in Detail:

  • Three years ago, more than two thirds of the companies stated that they were not yet involved in Industry 4.0 at all. This proportion has dropped to around half.
  • Around 35 % of the companies have taken the first steps towards Industry 4.0 (three years ago only around 23 %).
  • Initial systematic approaches to Industry 4.0 have been developed by 7.5 % of companies (2016: around 5 %). At these companies, the machinery is at least partially controllable and networked via IT.
  • Just under 5 % of the companies count themselves as experienced in Industry 4.0 (maturity level 3), compared to just over 3 % three years ago. In these companies, the first systematic approaches have been made both in terms of strategy and with regard to the networking of products, processes and customers as well as the virtual representation of the physical world.
  • The proportion of companies at level 4 (experts) remains negligible at 0.4 %. The experts systematically implement an industry 4.0 strategy in almost all relevant areas.
  • None of the companies surveyed in Northern Bavaria has yet reached level 5 (excellence) in Industry 4.0. However, this was foreseeable, as this level is considered to be the target at which producers integrate all major suppliers and customers into the Industry 4.0 concept.

Unsurprisingly, the survey shows that the small companies (fewer than 20 employees) lag significantly behind the large companies and the medium-sized companies across all maturity levels. Compared to 2016, however, the medium-sized companies (20 to 249 employees) in particular have grown significantly: Currently, only around 13 % of these companies are at maturity level 0, compared to more than 30 % three years ago.

Topics of Industry 4.0

The survey was based on the Readiness Model, which IW Consult developed in cooperation with the Research Institute for Rationalization (FIR) at the RWTH Aachen University. Here the following six topic areas, which are decisive for Industry 4.0, are evaluated:

Strategy and organization: More than half of the North Bavarian companies surveyed have developed an Industry 4.0 strategy. However, only a negligible number (around 3 %) have implemented this strategy to date.

Smart Factory comprises the intelligent recording, storage and processing of data to create digital images of the real world. The goal is a production environment in which manufacturing plants and logistics systems are fully networked and, in the long term, largely self-organizing. Almost 60 % of Northern Bavarian production companies record their machine and process data at least partially. However, most companies work with machines that are not networked with each other.

Smart Products: Possible are products that are equipped with additional information and communication technology functions (e.g. function monitoring, localization, personalization). In addition, the data generated when using these products can be analyzed and used to develop new offers and business models. Northern Bavarian companies use such additional functions most frequently for function monitoring and networking. The least common are self-disclosure and localization of objects.

Smart Operations is a benchmark for the extent to which company processes have been digitalized - even beyond the company's boundaries. Ideally, there is a uniform exchange of information with suppliers, customers and partners, whereby comprehensive precautions for IT and data security must be taken. Smart Operations have so far been implemented by the companies surveyed primarily in the areas of purchasing and finance, while the areas of production and service are lagging behind.

Employees: The surveyed companies have made the greatest progress in employee qualification. The employees can demonstrate specific skills that are necessary for Industry 4.0 - for example, know-how in automation technology, data analysis and data and communication security. 7 % of the companies even reach the high level of maturity of level 4 in the employee aspect. However, there is one aspect that worries the companies: They now see the availability of skilled workers as a major hurdle in the implementation of Industry 4.0, while other obstacles (e.g. unclear use of Industry 4.0, lack of norms and standards) have receded into the background compared to the 2016 survey.

Data-driven services: This refers to new data-driven business models. A classic example: When a machine is sold, maintenance contracts are concluded in which a certain level of system availability is firmly promised. This is coupled with an evaluation of the machine data to be recorded, which enables predictive maintenance. In 2019, more than 28 % of companies will offer data-based services, but only half of these companies will be networked with the customer.

Increased Importance of Industry 4.0

Compared to 2016, the companies have improved significantly in all six areas. The figure for data-driven services is striking: Here the companies have more than tripled their level of maturity compared with three years ago - albeit starting from a very low level. In 2016, the Northern Bavarian Chambers of Industry and Commerce identified the topic of "data-based services" as the most important challenge in Industry 4.0 and initiated a series of events and cooperation projects to this end. The demand for such services has increased dramatically: According to the survey, around 70 % of the companies surveyed expressly wish to receive support from the IHK (e.g. consulting, specialist events, qualification, regional networks). Three years ago, only about half as many companies asked for such support. "This too is an indication of the significantly increased importance of Industry 4.0 in the North Bavarian economy," says Dr. Ronald Künneth, expert for Automation and Industry 4.0 at the IHK Nuremberg for Middle Franconia.

Networking Through Digital Platforms

In order to really implement Industry 4.0 across the entire value chain, suppliers and customers must be included in the digital network. Digital platforms in which all participants are integrated will therefore play a central role. For this reason, this year's survey also asked to what extent such platforms are already being used: By far the most frequently used platforms are trading platforms for purchasing (around 51 % of companies) and sales platforms for corporate customers (around 41 %). The use of data and knowledge-based platforms, which are based on the use of machine or process data, for example, is significantly lower. More than 95 % of the companies surveyed believe that the importance of digital platforms will grow or at least remain the same over the next five years.

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