Development of a method to support mechanical engineering SMEs with the implementation of Industry 4.0 concepts in the CAD-CAM-NC process chain

The goal of the research project "DigiKMU" is to enable small and medium-sized mechanical and plant engineering companies to align their corporate IT strategically to achieve business objectives through industry 4.0 concepts in the field of the CAD-CAM-NC process chain. For this purpose a type modelling maturity model is developed on the basis of which SMEs can conduct a self-assessment and derive recommendations for the realignment of their corporate IT.


The successful implementation of the industry-4.0 guiding principle and the resulting increase in resource productivity and efficiency requires an extensive network of IT systems involved within the manufacturing processes. The preconditions for this, especially at the levels of application and data architecture must be created by the company's IT. This is not yet the case in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises ( SMEs ). They have to face two significant challenges: 1) lack of transparency about industry-4.0-potentials and implementation in SMEs This results in a lack of transparency about the level of economically useful investments in the company's IT. Nearly 80% of the IT budgets are usually spent on IT operations and only 20% on the strategic renewal and expansion of the company's IT. These structural problems result in lack of resources among SMEs, which are necessary, to implement an industry-4.0-enabled manufacturing with the help of an appropriate corporate IT. 2) SMEs are not prepared for the structural change of enterprise IT Through historically developed structures, but also by the increasing emergence of shadow IT, the IT in SMEs often resembles a proliferation of different systems which are only partially integrated. But a key prerequisite for industry 4.0 is a horizontal and vertical information integration of manufacturing-related systems.

Within the application of the CAD-CAM-NC process chain poor use of support systems is often reflected by insufficient IT support: procured management systems (e.g. for order or tool management and scheduling.) are not exploited in their functions or rather systems are used redundantly or solutions are additionally developed in-house. An SME without adequately dimensioned IT department is unable to analyze the strengths and weaknesses and to identify the acutal problems in the consistency of the process chain. In particular, the distinction between software and organizational issues are frequently made incorrect.

Project Content

Based on the CAD-CAM-NC process chain the innovation project DigiKMU, funded by the AIF, examines how corporate IT of a manufacturing SMEs in machine and plant construction must be strategically aligned in the medium term to reach business goals with the help of industry-4.0 concepts. For this, a vulnerability and potential analysis based on a systematic description and a maturity model of enterprise IT will be implemented, in order to develop action plans. The aim is to create a design model for the realignment of the company's IT, focused in the subsection of the CAD-CAM-NC process chain.


  • Machinery and Plant Engineering

Topic Area

  • Information Management

Research Focus

  • Informationstechnologie­management


Funding no.
Funding information

Das IGF-Vorhaben 18700 N der Forschungsvereinigung FIR e. V. an der RWTH Aachen, Campus-Boulevard 55, 52074 Aachen wird über die AiF im Rahmen des Programms zur Förderung der industriellen Gemeinschaftsforschung (IGF) vom Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestages gefördert.