Manual for the digital renaissance of existing plants

Fraunhofer Lemgo and VDMA publish guide for Industry 4.0 retrofit

(Lemgo) What do companies in the SME sector expect from Industry 4.0? Where do they hope for advantages, where are there tangible and concrete benefits? These questions are difficult to answer without first investing large sums in equipment and personnel. This is because existing plants, i.e. machines in which investments were made in the past and which are still performing their service perfectly, often do not provide any data for control and condition monitoring. With the so-called "I4.0 retrofit", these machines can be upgraded for Industrie 4.0 applications in order to be operated more safely, efficiently, flexibly and transparently. To this end, Fraunhofer IOSB-INA and the VDMA have for the first time written a guide that provides important assistance, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, in the digitization of their existing machines.


A basic idea of Industry 4.0 itself is to generate added value with machine data and its analysis. For example, machine learning methods can analyze process data and reveal the causes of quality deficits or identify signs of pending maintenance. This requires machines that are operated digitally, i.e., process data can already be transmitted and used. If this is not the case, companies face the problem of having to make high investments in internal know-how and sensor technology or an infrastructure before the first added values arise.

Consequently, many SMEs naturally want a connection to the IIoT that is as fast as possible and at the lowest possible cost - for this, a systematic approach is needed to determine which machine data must be recorded and analyzed with which sensor technology. As of now, the new VDMA guide provides support for your own I4.0 retrofit: Together with 20 VDMA members and the Fraunhofer IOSB-INA in Lemgo, a compact manual has been created that enables potential suppliers and users to get started systematically and conveys important basics. The many years of experience of the research institute in Lemgo and the 20 VDMA partners in the implementation of retrofit projects have been incorporated into this manual.

The guide clearly summarizes the implementation forms for I4.0 retrofit with a stage model to give users an initial orientation or a location of their own state of the art before an I4.0 retrofit application is installed on the machine. In addition, the guide provides a checklist that manufacturing companies can use to concretely assess their needs in order to develop implementation plans and define goals for a retrofit application in the first place. Furthermore, various application examples are shown how sensor technology can be connected to an infrastructure and which options are available for the transmission, monitoring and control of sensors. and which options are available for the transmission, storage and use of production data.

You can download the guide from the VDMA website.