Hochschule Karlsruhe Hochschule Karlsruhe - University of Applied Sciences
Hochschule Karlsruhe Hochschule Karlsruhe - University of Applied Sciences

Digital-vernetztes Denken in der Produktion

Key competencies for Industry 4.0


The current state of digital-networked thinking at German mechanical engineering companies is investigated to find out what strategies and measures the companies are pursuing to develop and expand the necessary digitalization competencies, and how many of their employees already have the necessary skills.

Central findings and key insights

The study shows that digitization has arrived as a strategic future topic in the German mechanical and plant engineering sector:

  • One-third of the 335 companies surveyed online already have a dedicated digitization strategy, and another quarter plan to introduce a digitization strategy in the next three years
  • Digitization strategies are more successful when implemented across divisions, goals and challenges are communicated transparently, and a positive culture of error and "the courage to fail fast" prevails.
  • Data-based services or predictive maintenance models, competencies in IT security and in user-oriented IT design serve as enablers for new business models in the digitally-networked world.
  • An interdisciplinary understanding will become increasingly important in the future, as digital-networked innovations increasingly take place at the interface of different disciplines.
  • In the development and expansion of the necessary digitization skills lies a major challenge, because in the recruitment of appropriate IT and software specialists, small companies tend to have more difficulties than large companies. They therefore more often outsource their software development to external service providers.
  • Agile and design-oriented development processes can significantly fertilize the ability to develop digital products and services in-house.
  • There is a positive correlation between the use of lean concepts and the ability of companies to use digital-networked technologies in their own production processes.

In the context of the study, an online benchmarking has also been developed. Interested companies have the opportunity to use the generated database for an online self-location at http://www.digitalisierungskompetenz-benchmark.de.
The complete study, "Digital-Networked Thinking in Manufacturing," can be found on the IMPULS Foundation website at http://www.impuls-stiftung.de/studien.

With its diverse competencies, the ILIN supports interested companies

  • in a holistic quick check of the already achieved status in the implementation of digital networking (Industry 4.0),
  • in analyzing the key competencies required for digital networking and developing suitable measures,
  • in the development of a strategic roadmap of future important activities on the way to the digitally networked company,
  • in the analysis and development of new business models for digital networking/industry 4.0,
  • in the analysis and implementation of agile methods and appropriate frameworks (security, processes) for the digital-networked transformation.

Project Duration

  • December 2015 to October 2016

Project consortium

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI

Funding by

  • VDMA Impulse Foundation


  • Prof. Dr. Steffen Kinkel
  • Johanna Rahn
  • Bernhard Rieder


Prof. Dr. Steffen Kinkel

Phone: +49 (0)721 925-2915
Fax: +49 (0)721 925-2965
steffen.kinkelspam prevention@h-ka.de

Geb. E, Raum 105
Moltkestra├če 30
76133 Karlsruhe