The forum, Industrie 4.0 meets the Industrial Internet, ran frequent sessions throughout the week. I attended a couple of them: the opening panel and “From sensor to cloud – device integration and IT infrastructure.”
The opening forum featured an introduction by an official from the German government, Dr. Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister for Education and Research. She highlighted the rapid rise of Industrie 4.0. The panelists included
- Bruce Andrews, US Department of Commerce
- Harel Kodesh, GE Digital
- Matthias Machnig, German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
- Prof. Siegfried Russwurm, Siemens AG
The panel moderator was an Irish editor of a German magazine.
My observations, paraphrasing the participants:
There should be more than one approach/technology. Competition is needed.
Difference between Germany and USA is production versus platform. (This topic returned several times.)
Industrie 4.0 is an evolution, but history may judge it revolutionary.
USA has a bottom up approach while Germany has a top down approach involving regulation.
GE’s Kodesh added that regulation should come later. He used the example of the first electrically wired system involving one neighborhood. If that approach had been standardized, regulations would require US house voltages to be 110 volt DC. He added that opens standards do benefit small companies.
Russwurm noted that B2C sales are based on emotion but B2B is based on ROI and customer benefit. In the end the market chooses the standards.
Andrews, to my surprise, noted that government should stay out of the way and only apply regulations if the market somehow fails.
There was some contentious back and forth over the German vs. American approaches, but in the end the desire was for truly international standards.
Some of the forum sessions were in English and some were in German. Simultaneous translation was available via headset. I noticed that most of those in attendance did not need headsets for either language!