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Communication Platform Revolving Around Smart Components

SEZ coordinates international network

Smart industrial components refer to elements, modules, and tools that enable the digitalization of manufacturing processes, as captured by the term used frequently in Germany: Industry 4.0. Key features of such components include their connectivity and communication, the ability to autonomously adjust their actions by analyzing and monitoring data, optimization, and independent learning. Such components are currently being researched with intensity and developed both nationally and internationally. What’s still missing at the moment is a proper overview. The stage of development varies massively, as does the extent to which products are ready to use. There’s also no proper network out there for key players involved in this area. To take on these challenges, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ) set up a European communications platform in 2015 to specifically address the topic of smart components.

With the aim of promoting technical exchange throughout the network and to accelerate the use of research results throughout the manufacturing sector, SEZ is networking a core group of six live EU research projects (I-Ramp3, ReBorn, SelSus, T-Rex, INTEFIX, and Power- OM). The projects fall under the framework of an EU project called Co-FACTOR. In the spirit of the Industry 4.0 movement, the six projects focus on the area of progressive, intelligent manufacturing and on technologies that open the door to this: smart components. The project partners come from Germany, the UK, Spain, and Portugal.

As the coordinator of the EU Co-FACTOR project, SEZ held a roadmapping workshop in Brussels in October 2016. At the workshop, experts looked at R&D priorities and the benchmarking of smart industrial components. The workshop was an opportunity for specialists from the processing and manufacturing sectors to meet up with IT and digital technology experts, researchers, engineering and business consultants, plus a variety of European experts from trade associations and politics. Together, they identified priorities and key topics for research and were able to provide feedback on this to the European commission, especially with respect to research trends and funding priorities. What’s more, the workshop looked at and discussed the most prevalent non-technological and socio-economic factors that are currently influencing the further development of smart components. The results of the workshop will be published in two green papers, which will be available on the website.