Digitization and Industry 4.0

The aim of expanding the competitive and employment-intensive economy formulated in the federal government’s high-tech strategy is described by means of the Industry 4.0 future-oriented project. This area is closely connected to digitization, digital transformation and the Internet of Things and is the focus of the research area.

In order to show various technical possibilities how companies can take time-, resource- and cost-saving steps towards digitization, Ostfalia’s "GrowIn 4.0" project team has compiled a catalog of demonstrators of several Industry 4.0 technologies, which is being continuously expanded. The "Ostfalia I4.0 Catalog" is intended to illustrate the potential of digitization measures and also to encourage interested companies to have a look at the technologies in use and to talk about cooperation opportunities for their development.

 

The following are actively engaged in the research area:

  • Faculty of Electrical Engineering
  • Faculty of Computer Science/IT
  • Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
  • Faculty of Business

 

What exactly is being researched:

The Internet of Things will shape the future of our society as a whole, and has the potential to improve our social lives. It enables and requires new business models. Research in this field is active, with a variety of interdisciplinary research projects, as well as cooperation with industry. Research results are directly incorporated into courses, with many students taking part in the research projects.

Researchers give an insight into their work

In interviews, the researchers present the research area and one of their research projects.

 

Digitization and Industry 4.0 - Prof. Klawonn and Prof. Strube

Prof. Strube and Prof. Klawonn in dialogue about the research area

"We are doing pioneering work in digitization"

Martin Strube is a specialist in the Industrial Internet of Things and the intelligent networking of sensors, devices, and machines; the expertise of the mathematician Frank Klawonn is in statistics and machine learning. In the research area Digitization and Industry 4.0 at Ostfalia the two professors play an important role. In this interview, they explain why the industry benefits from the collaboration with them and how they also support medical practice. And they talk about the reasons why research in digitization is so fascinating.

 


Professor Strube, Professor Klawonn, why is it important that you support companies in Digitization and Industry 4.0?

Martin Strube: Digitization is not a product that companies can buy commercially. Nor is there a manual that entrepreneurs can consult in order to establish Industry 4.0 in their production. In the machine and plant construction companies, there are countless different combinations of machines, IT systems and software solutions. This is what makes it so difficult to digitally represent the entire process chain from the delivery of materials up to delivery of the finished product – and in fact this is the goal of digitization. In principle, each company needs its own Industry 4.0 solution.

Frank Klawonn: The human factor also plays a role. Each employee has his or her own way to process data. Bringing together these data from different jobs and from different fields requires a lot of detail work, energy, and expertise. The digitization of production means a great deal of effort and only works if companies really resolve to gain data and to integrate and evaluate it.  

Martin Strube: In this context I’d like to quote my colleague Professor Diederich Wermser, who says: Digitization is, first of all, a different way of thinking and only then the use of new technologies. If we want to network the company thoroughly, there must be an understanding of the objectives of Industry 4.0 in every department, and also of the way the company wants to implement digitization.

 


What can you and your colleagues accomplish in your field of research?

Martin Strube: With feasibility studies we can demonstrate the added value of new technologies such as cyber-physical systems to industry partners. A simple example: if a production plant is at an unscheduled standstill, it can lead to high costs. It is better to evaluate your data intelligently in order to obtain advance information on the wear and tear of machines and to avert an impending loss of production. We show businesses which steps they need to take in order to achieve this level of development.

Frank Klawonn: We can help businesses to capture data, to recognise patterns in them and to make predictions for the production. This is the case – as in the example of the predictive maintenance – in the industrial environment and also in many other areas.

 


In which other areas is digitization being used?

Frank Klawonn: For example, in medicine: I use data so that rare diseases can be diagnosed earlier. We make a faster therapy possible for people and spare you what might be a years-long odyssey to physicians.

 


What is your research work based on?

Frank Klawonn: On the fact that data in digital form are available almost everywhere today. From these data we can draw useful information – with mathematical, computationally intensive procedures supported by technologies. Generally, companies can always derive important findings from the collaboration with us.

 


Why is your field of research well-positioned?

Martin Strube: We are in the fortunate position that the professors and their teams have a lot of practical experience, and each is specialised in a link in the process chain. Therefore, it is possible for us to analyse the overall process in an organisation.

Frank Klawonn: Automation, wireless technology, data analysis: these skills could not be unified even in a universal genius, it takes several experts. The cooperation between us works wonderfully.

 


Where is the cooperation between you particularly important?

Frank Klawonn: For data protection. How can the data securely make their way from the sender to the addressee? How can we guarantee the protection of the patient about whom the data reveals information? In the medical field these are the important questions. Data protection and data security is the expertise of my colleague Professor Ina Schiering: she ensures that we are on the safe side.

 


Why is Digitization and Industry 4.0 an ideal field of activity for industry and research?

Martin Strube: Computing technology, sensors and transfer technology form a fascinating combination that not only is very powerful but also relatively cheap. The investments are relatively low and the probability is high that companies will quickly realise additional value. In digitization, we are doing pioneering work in many cases because the technologies are very new.  This is fun – not only in industry, but also in research.

 

Digitization and Industry 4.0 - Prof. Wermser

Prof. Dr. Wermser talks about GrowIn 4.0

GrowIn 4.0: How companies can find their way into digitization

Industry 4.0 is the networking of manufacturers and customers, employees and technology, machines and processes. The Internet in general and digitization in particular spurs economy and industry – with new technologies, products and business models. How can small and medium-sized enterprises use these fascinating possibilities? Together with Ostfalia.

Researchers from the faculties of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science go where they can support companies from the sectors of mechanical engineering and the automotive industry best: to their production plants. Here they do not only discover how intelligent, networked systems improve the logistics and production processes. They also provide a roadmap helping digital production find its way into companies.

GrowIn 4.0 is the name of the international project heralding digital changes in regional mid-sized enterprises. The transfer of knowledge and technology strengthens the companies’ competitiveness. And this transfer leads to application-oriented research: Ostfalia conveys the right partners from the academic world who can help putting Industry 4.0 into practice.

GrowIn 4.0 started on 1 August 2017 and has a duration of three years. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 15 partners from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and England are working together in the project.

 

Prof. Dr. Diederich Wermser, Faculty of Electrical Engineering of Ostfalia:

"In order to offer our students very good opportunities, new ideas and new knowledge play a large role at Ostfalia – and this also includes new technologies. We make this knowledge useable for small and mid-sized enterprises so that they can successfully find their way into Industry 4.0 and digitization. And so that they can benefit from the potentials."

 

Sven-Ove Wähling, Managing Director Netzlink Informationstechnik GmbH (partner of Ostfalia in the research area Digitization and Industry 4.0):

"I am convinced that the age of digitization and the age of collaboration are beginning at the same time. For companies it is important to build up digital interfaces from production to sales and service, and also to external partners. We support the research of Ostfalia through the development of IT infrastructure and cloud services."

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