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A world-leading network for research and development projects around the factory of the future. Talking to Ruskowski, one quickly realizes: he wants to take the digitization of industry to the next level.

In view of the global dislocations, Ruskowski sees a particular urgency: "Over the past decades, we have built up a global, industrial network that is trimmed for efficiency. Highly efficient but unfortunately also highly fragile," says Ruskowski "Corona, climate change, the Ukraine war have permanently unhinged our world. Industrial companies need to respond to this. We need the industrial revolution...and we need it now!"

Now many will say, "Industry 4.0? Industrial revolution? We've been talking about that for years. Surely this has long since arrived in industry?" Ruskowski disagrees. On the one hand, many companies - especially small and medium-sized ones - are still in the early stages of digitalization. On the other hand, he says, industry networking needs to be thought of on a larger scale in light of the current challenges: "An industry is only truly resilient when I can respond to new framework conditions virtually at the click of a mouse."

Ruskowski refers to the shared production concept he and his team have developed: "Disrupted supply chains and the reordering of the world make rethinking manufacturing inevitable." This "shared production" could be based, for example, on a central digital platform where people can pick and choose individual machines or entire production lines. Depending on costs, C02 emissions, delivery routes or quality, one can then flexibly decide in favor of one or the other production site.

"Shared production allows the producer to access different factories and thus increases the resilience of manufacturing many times over. At the same time, transparency is created that makes it possible to select a factory that is particularly resource-friendly in terms of its carbon footprint, for example," adds Ruskowski.

What sounds like dreams of the future is already reality on a model scale in the halls of SmartFactory-KL. A truck in Lego look is being created on distributed production islands. At one station, the driver's cab is 3D printed. At the other station, the hanger is milled. The individual parts are assembled at manual workstations with the help of a cobot. A conveyor belt symbolizes the logistics from station to station or from plant to plant. All islands are interconnected in the Gaia-X network.

Ruskowski: "The industry representatives who visit us here in Kaiserlautern recognize how we are developing Industry 4.0 into Shared Production. We call this Production Level 4. For the first time, they can vividly experience how people, machines and software will work together in a decentralized manner in the future: resilient, sustainable and future-oriented!"

Those who don't want to travel to Kaiserslautern can experience the Smart Factory at HANNOVER MESSE 2023.