Against the backdrop of international competition, the trend towards individualisation of products is of essential importance in Germany, a high-wage country. In order to maintain or expand competitive advantages in this environment, constant optimisation of production in terms of quality, costs, time and especially changeability is necessary. Driven by technological and organisational innovations in the context of Industry 4.0 as well as innovative manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing processes, new possibilities for making the production more flexible are emerging. The difficulty for small and medium-sized enterprises is in particular to find a strategic approach that gradually and smoothly transfers the existing production system from low-variant series production to high-variant production.
Objective and procedure
In the “CrimpProd-S” project, integration strategies of a decentralised, self-learning production control system in the context of Industry 4.0, including additive manufacturing processes in existing structures, are being investigated at WEZAG GmbH and implemented in pilot areas. The aim of the LOEWE-3 SME joint project is to develop a generally applicable guide in the form of a manual for the gradual, evolutionary transformation of existing production systems. This guide ultimately describes generally applicable methods for analysing potential and designing economic implementation strategies, taking into account employees, machine connections and information flows. Such an analysis is applied on the basis of the corporate strategy, the business model and the internal value stream to generate a holistic picture. Such highly flexible production should enable customised products at low cost and high quality. The development of this guide and a training concept for the Mittelstand 4.0 competence centre is intended to ensure a transfer of knowledge to Hessian SMEs.