Medium-sized companies are rightly called success factors for the German economy. Particularly in mechanical and plant engineering, many companies enjoy an excellent reputation worldwide with their innovative technical solutions. In Germany and Europe, 99 percent of companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in which two-thirds of all employees work (source: Federal Office of Statistics). Without a doubt, SMEs are also the most important driver of the European job market.
However, despite mature technological products, SMEs are always in international competition. In order to provide customers with added value over lower-cost products, European SMEs must always offer innovative solutions that are adapted to customer needs. More and more medium-sized companies are recognizing the opportunities and advantages of Industry 4.0 in order to secure their long-term competitiveness. However, many of the Industry 4.0 solutions offered so far often do not meet the specific requirements for SMEs. This applies both to medium-sized manufacturers of equipment, devices and components that want to develop "Industry 4.0-capable" products as well as to operators of medium-sized processing companies who want to digitize their company.
Especially in medium-sized enterprises, plants, devices and components are usually used by different, specialized manufacturers. In order to use the multi-value of a digitization, such as intelligent energy management or predictive maintenance, across systems, it is necessary that not only every single system is "Industry 4.0-capable", but that the different systems are interoperable and the operator receives a transparent overview of all the systems of his company.