I4AMF delegation to Germany: insights for an Advanced Manufacturing future

Ai Group’s Clive Milham participated in an Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum delegation to Hannover Messe in April. This Forum of industry leaders and organisations has been formed to support Australian industry transformation and is the successor to the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce. In this Blog post, Clive reflects on a busy week in Germany and the key lessons for Australian advanced manufacturing.

 An increasing number of Australian entrepreneurs and business leaders from start-ups, early stage companies, universities, manufacturing SMEs and large corporations arrived in Berlin in the days preceding the Industrie 4.0 trade fair at Hannover Messe. Itineraries were packed with meetings, site visits, workshops and events facilitated by organisations including the Victorian Government, AusIndustry, the Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum (I4AMF), Siemens and Ai Group.

The I4AMF delegation1 arrived in Berlin on Sunday 31 March for a function hosted by the Australian Ambassador to Germany, Lynette Wood. A large group of Australian delegates and supporters were welcomed by the Ambassador, who is a long-time advocate and active supporter of Australia and Germany’s alliance on digital transformation and Industry 4.0.

Industrial Transformation

The following morning the I4AMF delegation visited an industrial manufacturing site on the outskirts of Berlin, where Siemens’ gas turbines are manufactured. These modern, energy efficient machines are manufactured within an iconic, 100+ year-old heritage-listed building of brick, riveted steel and glass designed by renowned German industrial designer Peter Behrens.

Siemens’ gas turbine factory tour – Berlin

The delegation toured the factory and learned how Siemens is using Industry 4.0 technology to build digital twins of its gas turbines, simulating operation and performance improvements, while the application of smart sensors and the industrial ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) enables engineers to monitor turbine performance in the field, minimising the risk of unplanned downtime. An Augmented Reality service pack was demonstrated, which allows field service and maintenance operations to be overseen and supported by the engineering team in Berlin via a wireless internet connection. To conclude the tour, our hosts demonstrated how Siemens is using the additive manufacturing process of Direct Metal Laser Sintering for new component designs and replacement parts for aging turbines, similar to other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like GE Power.


Next, the delegation headed to the Australian embassy to meet with representatives from DIN – the German national standards organisation. Jed Horner of Standards Australia led the discussion, which focused on digital standards and Industry 4.0.

The importance of standardisation, accreditation and effective industry representation was discussed. DIN provided valuable insight into the importance of industry representation in standards development and revision and the role of standards committees and sub-committees was shared.

Standardisation meeting – Australian Embassy, Berlin

The Future of Work

The delegation reconvened at Paul-Löbe-Haus at the Bundestag (German parliament) for meetings with two parliamentary committees regarding the political and social implications of Industry 4.0.

These committees are comprised of members of parliament (MdB) from a broad cross-section of German politics, with the Left Party, Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) / Christian Social Union (CSU) parties all represented.

Mr Klaus Ernst MdB (Left Party), who chairs the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy, hosted the first meeting in which industry restructuring, digitalisation and energy transition was discussed in the context of Germany’s experience.

The following meeting with the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment was hosted by the committee spokesperson Dr Stefan Kaufmann MdB (CDU/CSU) and included committee members Andreas Steier MdB (CDU/CSU) and Dr Thomas Sattelberger MdB (FDP), the Policy Spokesperson. Dr Kaufmann also chairs the Bundestag commission on “Vocational training in the digital world of work”, which comprises 19 MPs and 19 experts working intensively on what Germany considers to be one of the most important future tasks in the field of education and economics, labour and social policy.

Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Honourable Trish White, the National President of Engineers Australia, led the discussion exploring common challenges and opportunities surrounding the future of work in Australia and Germany.

The Future of Work meeting – Paul-Löbe-Haus, the Bundestag, Berlin

Industrie 4.0 Trade Fair – Hannover Messe

Plattform Industrie 4.0 Leaders Dialogue – 2030 Vision for Industrie 4.0

Such is the importance of industrial transformation and Industry 4.0 in Germany, the five-day Industrie 4.0 trade fair was officially opened this year by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 31 March. In her opening address, the German Chancellor emphasised that companies, particularly those in the European union, must be innovative in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

The I4AMF delegation arrived at Hannover Messe on the third day of the fair to attend the day’s opening event – the “Plattform Industrie 4.0 Leaders Dialogue – 2030 Vision for Industrie 4.0”. The welcome address was delivered by Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, and the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Anja Karliczek.

Other speakers included Sweden’s Director General at the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Carl Rosen, and Mona Keijzer, the Netherlands’ State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, who discussed how national policy had been crucial to the success of companies in these countries.

The final panel discussion was internationally focused, with the Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, and Prof. George Chryssolouris, Board Member for the European Factories of the Future, discussing the 2030 vision for Industry 4.0 technology.

I4AMF + Plattform Industrie 4.0 – Workstream Leaders meetings

I4AMF workstream leaders David Chuter, CEO of the IM-CRC and Prof. Dr. Alexander Subic, Deputy Vice‑Chancellor of Research at Swinburne University, met with Plattform Industrie 4.0 working group leaders Prof. Dr. Svenja Falk, Managing Director of Accenture and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hahn, Chief Software Expert at Siemens.

The meeting discussed the recent re-modelling of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 working groups and the addition of the newly created “Digital Business Models in Industrie 4.0” working group led by Svenja Falk. Prof. Hahn is the chair of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 Testlabs which has much in common with the Australian Industry 4.0 Testlabs program.

Plattform Industrie 4.0 and I4AMF workstream leaders meeting, from left: Prof. Dr. Svenja Falk, Prof. Dr. Alexander Subic, Mr. David Chuter, Prof. Dr. Thomas Hahn and Dr. Clive Milham – Industrie 4.0 trade fair, Hannover Messe

The meeting discussed the relationship between industry and government in forming Industrie 4.0 policy in Germany. Industry representation was highlighted as a key factor, emphasising the importance of membership organisations like Ai Group and its role within the I4AMF.

In a parallel meeting, Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, met with Martin Kamp, head of the Working Group ‘Work, Training and Further Education’.

Australia at Hannover Messe

The Industrie 4.0 trade fair at Hannover Messe was an amazing collection of new technology and thought leadership, with a focus on Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence and 5G technologies. The displays were sophisticated and impressive, and the array of parallel conference events, speakers and panel sessions was mind boggling.

Austrade was proudly flying the flag at Hannover Messe. In collaboration with Flinders University’s New Venture Institute, their Australian Landing Pad stand presented offerings from start-ups and early stage companies participating in Austrade’s Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Bootcamp.

South Australia also had a trade stand at Hannover – the only state government present to promote its state’s capabilities. With a broad overview of technology and Defence, South Australia proudly displayed a Brabham BT62 hypercar on its stand.

The day was rounded off nicely with a tour of the Siemens stand and an Australian flavoured event discussing the application of Industry 4.0 technology to the Australian craft fermentation industry. Deacam’s Warren Bradford joined Siemens’ COO of Digital Industries, Jan Mrosik, for a panel discussion around the application of Siemens’ Mindsphere to food and beverage process automation. Deacam chose Mindsphere as the software platform for device integration and development of its craft fermentation IoT solution, Fermecraft, which has been kicking goals within the Australian craft fermenting industry. Tasting beer from Dandenong’s KAIJU! and gin from Richmond’s small batch distiller Brogan’s Way was an enjoyable way to finish the evening.

I4AMF delegation touring the Industrie 4.0 trade fair – Hannover Messe

Fraunhofer IAO, ARENA2036 and the global energy transition

The following morning, after an early flight to Stuttgart, the delegation arrived at Fraunhofer IAO – Fraunhofer‑Gesellschaft’s Institute for Industrial Engineering – where we met with Industry 4.0 pioneer Frank Wagner and his team. Frank presented an overview of Fraunhofer and his team’s activities, which included an engaging discussion around Fraunhofer’s Industry 4.0 pop-up program – in which a mobile technology demonstration lab is established in industrial towns and cities to improve community and business awareness of the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0.

Following this presentation, the delegation toured the Application Center Industrie 4.0, Robotics & Automation Open Lab and the Laboratory Automation and Bio-manufacturing Engineering where we learned of the world-leading applied research being conducted at Fraunhofer IAO.

Andrew Dettmer and Prof. Frank Wagner – Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart

Next up, we visited ARENA2036, the University of Stuttgart’s flexible factory focussed on development of the car of the future, manufacturing and associated technology. ARENA2036 is a public-private partnership that brings together high-profile representatives from science and business. This automotive factory of the future allows onsite testing and practical implementation of manufacturing and development research findings.

Swinburne University is the first Australian University to become a full member of ARENA2036 and Alex Subic spoke passionately of the benefits of Swinburne University’s involvement. Although the Australian automotive industry has experienced significant down-turn in recent years following closure of the Mitsubishi, Holden, Ford and Toyota assembly lines, ARENA2036 provided the delegation with a timely reminder of the value of public-private collaborative research and development.

That evening, energy expert Prof. Dr Michael Weinhold spoke enthusiastically to the delegation about the global energy transition and the role of Industry 4.0. His presentation discussed current and future technologies for energy distribution and management in Germany, the role of renewable energy sources like wind and solar and the role of new technologies such as hydrogen.

Siemens Electronics factory tour and Cyber Security panel discussion

On the following, fourth and final day, the delegation travelled to the Siemens Electronics factory in Amberg which is often upheld as a living example of Industry 4.0 in action. Here, over a period of more than 25 years, Siemens has fostered a culture of continuous improvement and transformed its operations through the implementation of digital technology. This has enabled an eight-fold increase in productivity to be achieved without any significant change in workforce numbers. The delegation learned of the application of digital twins to product design and manufacturing and the digitalisation of energy distribution and management. Electronic products manufactured at Amberg are increasingly being designed to incorporate the latest IoT technology, supporting factory automation both now and into the future.

I4AMF delegation at the Siemens Electronics factory, Amberg

The I4AMF delegation visit to Germany ended that evening, with a timely panel discussion on the topic of cyber security. Australia was well represented in this discussion, as AustCyber’s Chief of Ecosystem Development, Prerana Mehta, joined BMW’s Corporate Vice President Digital Strategy, Jens Monsees and Siemens’ Chief Cyber Security Officer Natalia Oropeza to discuss the importance of cyber security in an Industry 4.0 connected world.

In the age of digitalisation, cyber security is fast becoming one of the most important topics in the cyber-physical world that is Industry 4.0. Digital transformation will only be successful if we succeed in ensuring the security of data and networked systems.

Panel discussion regarding Cyber security with AustCyber’s Prerana Mehta, BMW’s Jens Monsees and Siemens’ Natalia Oropeza – BMW Welt, Munich

1 Ai Group’s Clive Milham participated in an Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum delegation to Hannover Messe. This Forum of industry leaders and organisations has been formed to support Australian industry transformation and is the successor to the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce. Further information is available at http://i4amf.aigroup.com.au/

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Clive Milham
As Technology Adviser – Industry 4.0 to the Ai Group Entrepreneurs’ Programme (EP) team, Clive brings to the role 20+ years’ experience in industrial research and development, advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurship, including 14+ years with Boeing where he was responsible for leading and managing teams in the field of aerospace materials and manufacturing. He is a tertiary qualified mechanical engineer, holds a PhD in materials engineering and has completed an MBA specialising in entrepreneurship and innovation management from the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship.

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