In the south-west of Germany – a region in and around Saarland and Rheinland Pfalz – the proportion of industrial jobs related to car manufacturing, mechanical and plant engineering as well as steel production and processing is higher than anywhere else. While the large companies have already put themselves in a good position with regard to the necessary digitisation, the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and production-related craft enterprises are in danger of being left behind unless the necessary support is provided through demand-oriented digitisation. In order for these companies to keep up with the developments and requirements of the market with regard to networking and digitisation and thus to ensure their competitiveness, additional digital skills are required. However, there is often a lack of knowledge about where, when and how digitisation and industry 4.0 technologies can be used economically. Hence, to provide targeted support to affected companies in the region, central contact persons and key personnel are needed. To this end, the Saarbrücken SME 4.0 Competence Center was established on September 1, 2017 as part of the BMWi’s “SME 4.0 – Digital Production and Work Processes” funding initiative.
The SME 4.0 Competence Centre Saarbrücken aims to build up the digitisation capacity in SMEs and production-related craft enterprises and, as a result, to strengthen the regional economic structure and competitiveness. For this purpose, production and information technology competencies from the Saarland research environment are bundled and made available for operational practice together with transfer partners. Employees from different areas can find competent contact persons for problems along the value chain as well as targeted further training measures in the context of digitization. For the exchange of experience in dealing with new digital technologies and to support their introduction, information and sensitisation are a pillar of the competence centre. In addition, numerous partners are involved and the exchange of all target groups is specifically promoted through innovative event formats such as mentoring programmes.
As a medium-sized 4.0 competence centre in Saarbrücken, ZeMA, together with the AWSi and saaris e.V., offers a wide range of services geared to the industry 4.0 maturity level of companies and the digital affinity of employees. As consortium leader of the Saarbrücken SME 4.0 Competence Centre, ZeMA is responsible for project coordination and in particular for the use of innovative systems for the internal and external networking of companies along the value-added chain. The services offered are designed for both entry-level companies and companies with proven expertise in Industry 4.0. Both cross-sector and sector-specific offers will be available. These include:
- Central consultation hours and personal support
- Information and awareness-raising events on the potential of digitisation and the possibilities for own use
- Lecture series – Basics of industry 4.0 SMEs and crafts
- In-depth qualification events for specialists and experts in workshops
- Direct exchange of experience between companies within the framework of networking, mentoring and co-working events
- Visit and demonstration of the Open Labs and the demonstrator landscape of the SME 4.0 Competence Centre to test the latest technology, employee qualification and inspiration
- Implementation of lighthouse projects in companies as regional pioneering examples
- Knowledge transfer of best practices and state-of-the-art research to companies