Industrie 4.0 Readiness study

Nine out of ten companies in the mechanical engineering sector see Industrie 4.0 as an opportunity for them to stand out on the market. Many companies have already taken successful steps towards implementing Industrie 4.0.

Once companies start to connect and digitalize production, they see the economic benefits straight away. These are just a few of the central messages of the Industrie 4.0 Readiness study commissioned by VDMA’s IMPULS Foundation and conducted by IW Consult (a subsidiary of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research) and the Institute for Industrial Management (FIR) at RWTH Aachen University.

Nearly 60 percent of mechanical engineering companies are involved in Industrie 4.0, around a third of them intensively – about twice as many as in the entire processing industry.

Readiness model shows the next steps

The assessment of Industrie 4.0 readiness and capabilities is based on a readiness model that was developed exclusively in the course of the study. In addition to identifying the characteristics of current market leaders, the model describes the Industrie 4.0 vision, defines the starting point and explains important steps and obstacles in its implementation.

The model is based on the six essential dimensions of Industrie 4.0:

  • Strategy and organization
  • Smart factory
  • Smart operations
  • Smart products
  • Data-driven services
  • Employees

The company-specific maturity level is requested for each of these dimensions, resulting in a classification of companies as “newcomers”, “learners” or “leaders”.

The study shows the differences between companies' levels of readiness with regard to the individual Industrie 4.0 dimensions in detail and defines critical steps for reaching the next level in each case. According to the study, nearly six percent of mechanical and plant engineering companies can be classified as “Industrie 4.0 leaders”, while as many as 18 percent have already taken some initial systematic measures and are thus considered “learners”.

The assessment of the dimensions also shows that Industrie 4.0 works and proves successful on the market when it is implemented, for example with regard to smart products, i.e. physical products with advanced ICT functionalities. In 14 percent of the companies, the products are already able to transmit information about themselves, while another seven percent of companies are able to locate every product at any time in the production process thanks to integrated IT components.

Online self-check offers added value for companies

The readiness model of the study was validated and analyzed by means of a representative survey conducted among German companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector. It also serves as a basis for self-assessment and gives companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector the opportunity to compare their progress with others themselves. The study partners have developed the online self-check for this purpose.

This online self-check is the special feature of the study. In addition to showing companies their progress on their path towards Industrie 4.0, it also provides specific recommendations for action to reach the next level of maturity.

Central findings

In addition to the Industrie 4.0 readiness classification, the study offers four central findings that can be considered fundamentally relevant to the success of Industrie 4.0:

  • Industrie 4.0 must be rooted more firmly in the corporate strategy
    For Industrie 4.0 to take hold, it is essential that management first embraces and above all practices such concepts.
  • Qualified personnel is already an issue
    Most companies have already recognized that a workforce with broad skill sets is a key success factor in reaching the goals of Industrie 4.0.
  • Data-driven services and smart products enable new business models
    The collection and analysis of data accumulated during the product life cycle offers tremendous potential for companies to expand their service portfolio or business model down the road.
  • Funding of Industrie 4.0 projects must be ensured
    Industrie 4.0 leaders, in particular, see the funding issue as a major obstacle, even more important than consistent standards, IT security or the resolution of legal issues.

Online study and self-check

The Industrie 4.0 Readiness study can be downloaded free of charge at

The online self-check is available at


Christian Mosch
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