Digitization, Industrie 4.0, Internet of Things

Nearly every second job in Germany depends on the production of goods. Mechanical and plant engineering is still one of the greatest strengths of German industry today. How can this pioneering role in the economy and the prosperity in this country be secured in times of increasing global competition and finite resources? New technologies are needed: Industrie 4.0 makes production smarter as well as more flexible, individual, efficient and sustainable. 


Industrie 4.0 stands for an intelligent networking of product development, production, logistics and customers. The fourth industrial revolution will alter Germany as a top industrial location.

Lighthouse Project ZEPOWEL

The Fraunhofer IZM (lead), the Institutes for Microsystems and Solid State Technologies EMFT, for Embedded Systems and Communication Technologies ESK, for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, IIS, IISB, for Photonic Microsystems IPMS and for Silicon Technology ISIT are developing a universal technology and methodology platform (which is as self-powered as possible) pursuant to the Plug & Play concept for all future IoT applications in a highly networked society. Energy-optimized multi-hop networks are intended to link connected systems quickly (up to 1 ms latency) and solidly.

Fraunhofer "Networked, Adaptive Production" High-Performance Center

At the Fraunhofer "Networked, Adaptive Production" High-Performance Center in Aachen, the Fraunhofer ILT, IME and  IPT are working with the RWTH Aachen University and industry partners on the complete networking of machines and sensors: all recorded production data is to be evaluated in real time using intelligent algorithms, and processes are to be flexibly adapted. This results in a variety of diagnostic and forecasting options.


Cluster of Excellence: cognitive internet technologies

With this cluster, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Applied and Integrated Security AISEC (lead), for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS, for Integrated Circuits IIS and for Software and Systems Engineering ISST want to integrate the principles of machine learning and understanding based on trustworthy data directly into the system design of the network. It connects the physical and the digital world while developing key technologies and, ultimately, the technology leadership for the cognitive Internet.

Lighthouse Project ML4P

The Fraunhofer Institutes for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB (lead), Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS, IFF, for Industrial Mathematics ITWM, for Mechanics of Materials IWM and IWU are researching methods of machine learning in the production environment and developing industrial-grade tools. The aim is to tap into various optimization potential which is dormant in modern production facilities and which, due to the complexity of the processes, cannot yet be identified. In addition, adaptive mechanisms can be implemented that make production systems flexible and quickly convertible.

BMBF project Carbon2Chem®

Eight industrial companies are working together with the Max Planck Society and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Fraunhofer UMSICHT and Fraunhofer ISE) as well as universities and other research institutes on a globally applicable solution to convert metallurgical gases into primary products for fuels, plastics or fertilizers. An important part of the project is the integration of renewable energies which, among other things, are used for the provision of the required hydrogen. With the "Carbon2Chem®" approach, 20 million tons of the annual German CO2 emissions of the steel industry will be made economically viable in the future.

Security and data sovereignty

The opportunities of digitization are great when risks such as cyberattacks, data theft or data sabotage become manageable. Fraunhofer offers security solutions that help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


Blockchain technology is a new approach not only for the decentralized, traceable and irreversible management of transaction data, such as financial transactions and value and rights transfers, but also for the audit-proof storage of quality-relevant production data. Following the Internet of Things, blockchain makes an Internet of Trust and Value. 

International Data Spaces e. V.

With the international initiative International Data Spaces e. V., Fraunhofer is laying the foundation for the data sovereignty of companies. A total of twelve institutions are involved. Companies exchange business data with each other according to certain rules, but always retain control and sovereignty over their own data. 

Virtual Fort Knox

Virtual Fort Knox (VFK) provides another way to connect securely. The cloud platform was developed primarily with technology leaders of the German SMEs and serves to connect manufacturing companies with software providers and mechanical engineers.

National platforms for digitization

Learning systems

Artificial intelligence methods, such as machine learning, are a critical basis for the technological breakthrough of learning systems. The "Learning Systems" platform was launched in September 2017 as a result of the work in the high-tech forum "Autonomous Systems". Its goal: to strengthen the future viability of Germany in the field of artificial intelligence.

The Fraunhofer President is a member of the steering committee that is responsible for the platform's content and strategic direction.

Industrie 4.0

The platform started at the 2013 Hanover Trade Fair and goes back to the action plan of the 2020 High-Tech Strategy. The platform is managed by the German Federal Ministries of Economics and Research.