Experience from the application of the Industry 4.0 Maturity Index shows that the fourth industrial revolution cannot be realized by implementing individual, isolated prototypes. The German manufacturing industry has now recognised this. Rather, the focus today is on designing systematic transformation programmes which aim for clear added value and are stringently structured.
Since the publication of the acatech STUDY in 2017, the Industry 4.0 Maturity Index has proven to be a quasi-standard in the producing industry for a structured digital transformation. The diverse uses of the index range from the creation of systematic roadmaps for the digital transformation of individual production sites to cross-site synchronization and a global digitization strategy. Furthermore, the Index can be used to measure and control the progress of digital transformation and to conduct technical due diligence for company acquisitions.
The maturity model provides a description of the skills and principles required to develop a company into an agile, learning organization. Thus "a company that can adapt to changing conditions through the use of appropriate technologies and organizational learning". The model is moreover also suitable as a tool for evaluating the structural and process organisation of manufacturing companies from the point of view of digital transformation.
The achieved holistic view of the company ensures on the one hand the measurability, on the other hand the chosen high level of detail enables the reproducibility and comparability of the results. The publication of the model furthermore provides new impulses for designers and decision-makers in manufacturing companies who want to deal seriously with the issues of digital transformation.
To determine the degree of maturity, the company is divided into four so-called design fields. These are subdivided into the essential fields of action for the development of an industrial enterprise: resources (primarily employees, machines and plants as well as the factory itself), information systems, culture and organizational structure.
Six maturity levels have been developed which describe the development of an ideal Industrie 4.0 company. The use of discrete stages ensures the manageability of the transformation process, which often extends over several years. The model thus serves both to define realistic stages and to develop a long-term mission statement.
“Computerization” comprises the use of information technologies for all processes running in a company. This includes the processing as well as the documentation of planning, organizational and operative tasks. Data and information are stored centrally and are available for analysis.
“Connectivity” describes the state in which the various resources and processes are linked via interfaces. Isolated recording and processing of data and information only takes place in exceptional cases. This avoids media breaks and the associated loss of information.
“Visibility” enables the first benefit actually propagated by Industrie 4.0, namely the attainment of information and decision transparency in operational processes. All actions within the company are fully documented and can be observed in real time.
“Transparency” expands the “what” by the “how” and “why”. The extended understanding can be used to build a comprehensive expert system.
“Predictability” as the fifth stage transforms this expert knowledge into forecasts. Future system conditions are derived from corresponding models and mechanisms for decision support are provided. The robustness and speed of the decision processes continues to increase.
“Adaptability” describes the autonomization of these decision-making processes. To a certain extent, action alternatives are not only automatically generated, but also automatically evaluated and finally the one that appears most suitable is implemented.
As a regulatory framework for the processes within the company, a distinction is made between five different functional areas. These follow the value chain from development and production through logistics and service to marketing and sales. The business processes examined can be assigned to the functional areas with the aid of appropriate regulatory frameworks.