Establish a stronger relationship to Smart Manufacturing pioneers in North America: That was the goal of Prof. Zühlke during the Manufacturing Leadership (ML) Summit and a workshop with CESMII/SMLA in California.
Prof. Dr. Detlef Zühlke, Chairman of the Executive Board of SmartFactoryKL, said at the plenary discussion at the ML Summit: „Start with small projects and pick low-hanging fruits to realise first results. At the same time, it is vital to engage in networks to profit from one another“. He called for a stronger cooperation between European and US-American players. For several years, he has been acting as Member of the Executive Board of Governors within the Manufacturing Leadership Council and thus has been taking part in the annual summits on a regular basis.
Furthermore, a workshop with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute and the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Association took place at UCLA in Los Angeles for the second time already. Scott Hibbard, Vice President Technology at Bosch Rexroth Corp. (USA), joined the meeting. As a representative of a long-term SmartFactoryKL member, he shared his views from the perspective of industry. The intensive exchange between representatives of industry and research made clear that Industrie 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing, as it is called in the USA, has become much than just automation. Topics such as work organization, product development and processes as well as the implementation of such aspects into daily business play a central role. Also solutions for retrofitting existing older production plants have become more and more important.
The topic of digitalization in small and medium-sized enterprises also played an important role in the discussion. Dr. Haike Frank, Head of the SME 4.0 Competence Center Kaiserslautern (Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Kaiserslautern), presented the initiative SME Digital (Mittelstand Digital) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and shared insights into the practical experience in working with SMEs. She talked to the representatives of US SMEs about the challenges faced when promoting digital transformation, especially in smaller firms.
To sum it up, Zühlke said: “While we Germans look at Industrie 4.0 from a clearly technological point of view, our North American friends approach the topic from the perspective of business models and supply chains. Germans and Americans can learn a lot from one another and draw gains from co-operation and exchange.”