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Industry 4.0 for SMEs - Smart Manufacturing and Logistics for SMEs in an X-to-order and Mass Customization Environment

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SME 4.0 (Industry 4.0 for SMEs - Smart Manufacturing and Logistics for SMEs in an X-to-order and Mass Customization Environment)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2022-06-30

Industry 4.0 – also known as the 4th Industrial Revolution – is one of the biggest challenges for European Industry. After mechanization, electrification and automation, the fourth Industrial Revolution is focusing on the introduction of advanced technologies connecting products, machines, people and production systems in order to realize the smart factory of the future. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe's economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. In the past years, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU. The European Commission considers SMEs therefore as key to ensuring economic growth, innovation, job creation, and social integration in the EU (source: The project SME 4.0 is important for society due to its expected impact for speeding up the implementation of Industry 4.0 in SMEs and thus to increase productivity and competitiveness of European SMEs. Despite the high potential of Industry 4.0 in SMEs, the main limitation currently lies in a lack of specific and concrete models for its implementation and application in small and medium-sized enterprises. Thus, the research project aims at closing and overcoming this gap through the creation of an international and interdisciplinary research network.

The three main objectives of the project are:

1. Identifying the needs and enablers for Industry 4.0 applications and implementation in SME Manufacturing and Logistics
What are actual known concepts and technologies of Industry 4.0?
What are the main opportunities/risks for the use of these concepts in SMEs?
How suitable are the different concepts for application in SMEs (assessment of SME suitability)?
What are SME-specific functional requirements for the adaptation of the most promising concepts and technologies?

2. Creating SME-specific concepts and strategies for smart and intelligent SME Manufacturing and Logistics
What are possible forms or migration levels for realizing smart and intelligent Manufacturing Systems for X-to-order and Mass Customization Production?
How can Automation, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, ICT and CPS improve productivity in SME Manufacturing and Logistics?
What are suitable models for smart and lean supply chains in SME Logistics?

3. Developing specific organization and management models for smart SMEs
What are innovative and promising new business models for smart SMEs?
What are optimal implementation strategies for the introduction of Industry 4.0 in SMEs?
What are ideal organizational models for smart SMEs or SME networks?

Conclusions of the action:
• Comprehensive overview of requirements and barriers for the implementation of Industry 4.0 in SMEs
• Development of technical as well as organizational templates and frameworks for facilitating SMEs to introduce Industry 4.0
• Development of assessment models and roadmaps for introducing Industry 4.0
• Involvement of SMEs in the explorative analysis as well as validation of applicability of project results
• Validation of SME specific concepts through lab prototypes as well as industrial case studies
The following results and deliverables in communication and project marketing were achieved:
• Elaboration of a corporate identity including logo, project video, poster and website
• Radio Interview at RAI Sender Bolzano on January 27 2017
• Elaboration of 2 videos summarizing the midterm meeting in Leoben
• More than 30 press releases in print and digital media
• Social media posts on facebook, LinkedIn and ResearchGate
• Several presentations of the project in seminars, workshops and company visits (see news on the project website)

The following scientific results were achieved:
• 96 scientific works published in Journals and/or conference contributions
• 2 edited books with 13+12 chapters summarizing the results of the first and second project phase (D10 and D13)
• several awards for scientific results
• 4 special issues in Journals
• 2 Special Panel Session related to Industry 4.0 moderated by SME 4.0 researchers with speeches of SME 4.0 researchers at IEOM 2019 and ESOF 2020.

A wide range of dissemination activities were achieved:
• Conduction of seminars, workshops and guest lectures
• Conduction of SME Workshops with ~50 SMEs
• Participation to International Conferences
• Organisation of Summer Schools
• Visits and Industry 4.0 assessments in SME companies

Exploitable results:
o Industry 4.0 self-assessment service
o Industry 4.0 seminars and short course development
o Industry 4.0 implementation support for SMEs as consulting service
o Installation of a Learning Factory Lab 4.0 at CMU

Some key facts:
o >38.000 visits of project website (4.000 planned)
o >2.274 views of the project video on YouTube (500 planned)
o 3.000 leaflets printed and distributed (2.000 planned)
o 140 posts with news on the website (15 planned)
o 33 press releases (25 planned)
o 7 interviews (5 planned)
o 8 SME workshops: 2 Italy, 2 Austria, 2 Slovakia, 1 USA, 1 Thailand (6 planned)
o 6 industrial case studies (3-5 planned)
In the first 2 years of the project (2017-2018) the focus was given on the analysis of Industry 4.0 concepts and the assessment of their suitability for SMEs. The research team elaborated a comprehensive catalogue of Industry 4.0 concepts retrieved in scientific literature. These Industry 4.0 concepts were then evaluated for their suitability and applicability in SMEs. Further, an assessment tool has been elaborated in order to allow SMEs to assess their level of implementation of Industry 4.0. The results of the first phase are documented in scientific papers and the book "Industry 4.0 for SMEs - Challenges, Opportunities and Requirements" published in January 2020 (Open Access Link:

In the following 4 years of the project (2019-2022) activities were dedicated to a synthesis and the elaboration of actions and recommendations for SMEs how to implement Industry 4.0 in a systematic way. Based on the results of the analysis in the first two years the research team concentrates its effort on the development of SME specific and concrete solutions for implementing Industry 4.0. Due to the pandemic situation with COVID-19 most of the secondments planned in 2020 unfortunately could not be implemented. SME workshops to discuss the final results of the project with stakeholders/SMEs have been postponed and implemented in 2021. The scientific results of the second project phase from 2019-2022 have been published in form of an Open Access book "Implementing Industry 4.0 in SMEs - Concepts, Examples and Applications" (Open Access Link: The consortium got the approval for an extension of the project of 1.5 year (until 30.06.2022).

The impact of this project initiative in relation to the European Community including socio-economic impact is manifold:
1) Ensure the transfer of Industry 4.0 to SMEs through adapted template models
2) Maintain and develop the competitive level of European SMEs
3) Accelerate the transition of Industry 4.0 from research to practice
4) Maintain the prosperity of the European population by securing job
5) Development and career progress of European experts and qualified young scientists in SME-research for Industry 4.0.
SME Workshop Bolzano 2017
IEOM 2021 Rome Panel Speech about SME 4.0
Participation at IEEM 2018 conference
Final meeting in Bolzano - June 2022
Radio Interview in RAI Sender Bolzano - 27.01.2017
Annual Meeting Chiang Mai 2019
Prof. Dominik Matt at MIT
Interactive SME workshop results
Visit of Fraunhofer Italia in Bolzano
Research Award for Dr. Erwin Rauch for his research on Industry 4.0 for SMEs
Kick-Off Meeting February 2017 at Bolzano (Italy)
Patrick Dallasega at Chiang Mai University
Midterm meeting Leoben 2018
Industry 4.0 Conference organized by Chiang Mai University
International Summer School SME 4.0