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"Industry 4.0 needs cross-sector cooperation," says Gunther Koschnick, head of the Automation Division at ZVEI (Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e. V.). "Only by working together will we make the digital revolution a reality in production. That is why the Industry 4.0 management team at ZVEI has set up the 'IT in Automation' working group." The new group wants to create a space where information and communication technology (ICT) companies and businesses in the electrical industry can work together more closely. The ultimate aim is to develop a better understanding of the requirements associated with Industry 4.0 and devise joint solutions. Industry giants such as Siemens, Festo, Bosch Rexroth, Emerson, Hilscher and Codewrights, suppliers of MES and ERP solutions such as itac, PSI and SAP, and IT companies including Microsoft and Deutsche Telekom have already signed up to work with ZVEI. More companies interested in getting involved are sure to join them. "We are looking forward to working with all these partners and are open to IT companies that would like to come on board," says Koschnick.

More than anything, the new working group wants to close the loop in automation by linking up with the ICT sector and connecting the shop floor to the office floor. That means finding new approaches to close networking and data exchange between machinery, hardware and office processes. Operational and automation-based IT systems are to be the focal point, including manufacturing operation management (MOM) and manufacturing execution systems (MES), warehouse and maintenance management, quality assurance, production IT and software engineering for Industry 4.0. The new working group aims to identify and classify functions typical of these IT systems and to incorporate them into RAMI 4.0 (Reference Architechtural Model for Industry). "If we are to seamlessly integrate the shop and office floors in good time, we need to start working on it together now," says Koschnick. There shouldn't be long to wait for results. Prof. Martin Wollschlaeger, head of the new 'IT in Automation' working group set out the first milestone in an interview with computer-automation.de at the beginning of August: "The aim is to have initial results ready to present at HANNOVER MESSE 2018."