Industry 4.0: The role of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany
Purposes: In the present study, the concepts inherent to Industry 4.0 and Mittelstand will be initially defined in a clear way, for a better understanding of the context under analysis. Afterwards, the current situation of Industry 4.0 in the German SME sector will be evaluated, presenting as results the respective inherent challenges and opportunities. In this follow-up, the research will conclude whether the concept of Industry 4.0 can represent a key success factor for the SME sector in Germany.
Methodology: The data analysis in the present research are based on a bibliographic review and an analysis of statistical data, seeking to represent a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Results: The challenges analyzed and discussed may be a possible justification for a slow reversal of traditional production processes for Industry 4.0. However, the numerous opportunities and their high implementation potential are preponderant for the adoption of the 4.0 industry in the production processes of the future.
Conclusions: This research shows that currently, there is still a high percentage of companies in the German SME sector that have not implemented Industry 4.0. However, the opportunities presented throughout the study, overcome the possible challenges posed in this context, as Industry 4.0 can considerably increase the profitability and efficiency of production as well as the overall competitiveness of the organization.
Keywords: digitization; industry 4.0; mittelstand; SME.