Future production will be characterized by increasingly shorter product lifecycles, an increasing variety of variants and increasing product quality with simultaneously reduced reject rates. This results in new challenges for companies, especially in forming technology. The digitization and networking of production within the framework of Industry 4.0 offers a solution to these changed framework conditions. Digitization thus represents an important topic for the future for companies, but it also comes with enormous potential and new challenges. In order to support companies in the Rhine-Main area in these questions of digitization, the support program “ Mittelstand-Digital – Strategies for the Digital Transformation of Business Processes ” of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), the “Mittelstand 4.0 – competence center ” as part of the support initiative “Mittelstand 4.0 – Digital Production and Work Processes” in Darmstadt was established.
Company managers are advised, trained and supported in implementation projects in questions of digitization and networking.  By training measures, workshops and technical discussions, SMEs are to be sensitized to topics relating to industry 4.0 in order to be able to implement the opportunities of digitization and the associated concepts on an individual company basis.
In order to bring small and medium-sized enterprises closer to topics of networking and digitization, it is necessary to put the discussions about technology aside and focus on solutions and benefits. Therefore, the competence center has developed suitable thematic strands of action which are particularly relevant for the Rhine-Main region in the context of digitization and networking. These include, in particular, topics of the efficient value chain, work 4.0, energy and resource management as well as the introduction of new business models. On the basis of completed and ongoing research projects, initial information will be provided through specialist lectures and demonstrators since the purpose is to sensitize regional SMEs to digitization applications. During these training courses, there will be the opportunity to exchange information on the advantages, possible fields of application and the challenges and effort involved in concrete implementation. The competence center aims to promote acquired competence in the field of digitization through further training events. To this end, action-oriented workshops will be offered which will demonstrate the potential of industry 4.0 solutions for SMEs. Once possible digitization applications have been identified, they can be implemented directly in a company. The aim is to implement customized Industry 4.0 solutions directly on site.
Institutions and companies involved
A total of eight partners from science and practice are involved in the project “Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center Darmstadt”, which bundles their expertise on digitization and industry 4.0 topics in the Competence Center Darmstadt. Four institutes of the Technical University of Darmstadt, two Fraunhofer Institutes as well as the Industrie- und Handelskammer Darmstadt Rhein Main Neckar and the Handwerkskammer Frankfurt-Rhein-Main are represented. The Institute for Production Technology and Forming Machines PtU supervises training courses, workshops, lectures and implementation projects on the topics “Use of Sensors in Forming Technology Production” and “New Business Models in Digitized Production”.
The Mittelstand 4.0 – Competence Center Darmstadt is part of the funding initiative “Mittelstand 4.0 – Digital Production and Work Processes”, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) within the framework of the funding priority “Medium-Sized Business Digital Strategies for the Digital Transformation of Business Processes”.
Further information and the complete offer of the Mittelstand 4.0 – Competence Center Darmstadt can be found at https://kompetenzzentrum-darmstadt.digital/