Letter IEDI n. 807–Industrial policy for the future – Germany's INDUSTRIE 4.0 Initiative
In recent months, the IEDI has been focusing on systematizing and analyzing the main measures that the leading countries in the world economy are adopting to make the industry of the future a reality. The development and diffusion of new technologies and processes play a central role in these countries' industrial policy.
The issue is urgent and of great relevance to Brazil because the transformations will be deep and rapid and, as we shall see, other countries are already way ahead of us, which imposes important challenges to our international competitiveness. Now that the Brazilian industry is beginning to recover, we must look forward, in a strategic way, to guarantee the country a prominent position in the global production system.
This Letter IEDI opens a series of studies based on the central points of the German project for the industry, gathered from official documents such as "INDUSTRIE 4.0: Smart Manufacturing for the Future" published in 2014 by the German Agency for Investment and Trade (GTAI, the acronym in German), as well as from other studies.
INDUSTRIE 4.0 is a strategic initiative launched in 2011 by the German government, in partnership with universities and the industry, aiming to make the country a pioneer in the production and use of industrial information technology that promises to revolutionize manufacturing. The goal is to guarantee the progress or at least the preservation of German industrial competitiveness.
Maintaining the country's position as a world leader in high-tech industries and exports remains an important priority for the Germans. The federal government supports and promotes advanced manufacturing through its various ministries, branches and agencies, working in partnership and close collaboration with the private sector (business and associations). There are also incentives for partnerships and cooperation between science (universities and research institutes) and industry.
Since the announcement of INDUSTRIE 4.0, a comprehensive package of policies, complementary activities and funding programs have been introduced to make Germany the market leader and global provider of cyber-physical systems by 2020. At the same time, representatives from numerous industrial sectors — including the automotive sector, automation technology, manufacturing of machines and industrial plants — have committed to spend more than 2.5 billion euros on six research areas over ten years.
Germany's international leadership position in embedded systems, security solutions and corporate softwares, coupled with an enviable engineering reputation on issues related to systems solutions, semantic technologies and know-how on integrated systems, made it possible for the country to take a pioneering role in the development of cyber-physical systems (CPS). These provide the basis for the creation of the Internet of Things which, combined with Data and Services Internet, makes INDUSTRIE 4.0 possible.
As the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds disappear, it is these "enabling technologies" that make the multiple applications and innovative processes a reality. Comprised of intelligent machines, logistics systems and production facilities, the CPS enables productive integration based on information and communication technology for vertically integrated and networked manufacturing.
Despite the significant economic potential associated with INDUSTRIE 4.0, in terms of increased productivity and efficiency, even in a country like Germany some challenges still have to be overcome.
Small and medium-sized German companies, for example, are still reluctant to join the project. Large enterprises are substantially more advanced in integrating their production facilities into higher-level IT systems than midsize companies, and the latter are far more advanced than small businesses.
Further challenges come from the fact that it is still unclear what the rise in digitalization resulting from INDUSTRIE 4.0 will mean for people and society at large, and what impacts it will have on the labor market. On the one hand, routine activities are being increasingly digitized and automated, while new fields of occupation are expected to emerge. On the other hand, there may be a considerable growth in low-paid "click workers" and "cloud workers", with less social protection, creating difficulties for the expansion of consumer markets.
Further details are given here (in Portuguese).