In the past, outsourcing of manufacturing was a key factor in strategic decisions in high-cost regions such as Europe. Since the economic crisis, governments have realized the importance of supporting companies in order to bring back manufacturing in certain industries and, overall, to strengthen the Western economy. Digitalization (Industry 4.0) is seen as a main enabler of this, as to survive in the global competition new technologies, working methods and business models are necessary.
The overall aim is to further increase the efficiency of production, while at the same time move towards batch size one and offer highly personalized products to customers all over the world.
The fourth industrial revolution led to the application of cyber-physical production systems. Companies are integrating technologies and tools such as assistance systems in order to help workers to master ever complex tasks in the factories of the future. Further, connectivity plays a key role in current developments. Communication in real time across the value chain from raw material suppliers to customers as well as (big) data collection and analysis change the existing business world substantially.