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Dr. Johanna Wanka, Germany’s Minister for Education and Research, stresses the "extremely important role" played by Industry 4.0 in current research policy.

"We recognized the potential for Germany early on and have strongly encouraged research in the area of Industry 4.0,"

"Our new high-tech strategy ties into this and last year we were able to initiate a large research program to support innovations for manufacturing, services and the labor of tomorrow." Wanka continues, "The new industrial revolution presents us with the opportunity to turn more ideas into innovations and design the jobs of the future. I’m very confident."

At several places at Research&Technology visitors can discover what is going on in the minds of scientists in terms of Industry 4.0. In addition to large institutions, several start-ups are also showcasing their innovations in Hall 2. Uberblik GmbH for example brings together people who work in the context of Industry 4.0 using novel collaboration software. This recently founded Berlin-based company is represented at the tech transfer start-up stand along with sonixc GmbH from Munich which is presenting its cloud-based service management software "Service Hero". Access to real-time data and intelligent management enable the app to raise productivity in customer service by up to 30 percent and reduce case-related field and office work costs. According to sonixc, service technicians will be transformed into "true service heroes".

At the moment, a great deal of research concentrates on IT security issues. At the joint pavilion representing nine leading technical universities (TU9) for example, the Institute for Theoretical Informatics at the Karlsruhe Institutes of Technology is focusing on this topic. At KIT a solution to combine firewalls has been developed that remains secure even if an individual firewall has been hacked. A simulator at the TU9 stand demonstrates this solution to trade show visitors. Other projects at the stand deal with smart factories, the Internet of Things and automation engineering. On Monday April 13 from 3-4 p.m. TU9 President Prof. Hans Jürgen Prömel, President of the TU Darmstadt, will hold a discussion in the VDI Lounge with representatives of the German Technical Control Board and AUDI AG on Industry 4.0.

"IT security is one of the critical success factors that will make or break the practical feasibility of comprehensive Industry 4.0 solutions,"

Key challenges in this context include the protection of intellectual property, manufacturing networks, and all communications within companies and between companies and the outside world. A system for incorporating security features into a manufacturing plant’s automation architecture had also not yet been developed. According to Sauer, security should be a key consideration at all stages of a plant’s lifecycle, from the initial design phase through to construction, commissioning and daily operation.

Visitors to the Fraunhofer IOSB stand at this year’s Research & Technology show will have the opportunity to learn about a cutting edge Industry 4.0 project dubbed "SecurePLUGandWORK." The project is a joint initiative of Fraunhofer IOSB, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Its principal goal is to use open M2M communication standards, such as AutomationML and OPC UA, to enable the self-configuration of software-driven production processes across all levels of automation architecture. "The basic principle is similar to the USB and plug & play technologies used in PCs. New components, machines or plants that get introduced to an existing production system establish connectivity with that system via standard protocols, identify themselves and provide information about their functionality. The same mechanism applies when software-related changes are made to the system," explains Olaf Sauer.

Fraunhofer IOSB is in the process of setting up a state-of-the-art IT security laboratory to test the security of Industry 4.0 IT systems under real-world conditions, for instance by simulating different cyber attack scenarios and searching for vulnerabilities in production automation systems. "The findings will be used to develop analysis tools that will determine the level of security of a manufacturer’s digital systems," explained Birger Krägelin, IT Security Officer at Fraunhofer IOSB. "We also want to analyze and simulate the potential impact of hacker attacks." Fraunhofer IOSB hopes that its research will ultimately lead to safe industrial ICT networks, authentication processes and encryption technologies as well as improved training of personnel involved in setting up and operating secure production networks. Fraunhofer IOSB will be showcasing key parts of its laboratory at this year’s Research & Technology show to help visitors understand the critical importance of IT security to the Industry 4.0 vision.