Advancing globalisation and the increasing pressure of competition are presenting major challenges to industrial manufacturing enterprises. The desire for customised products leads to a greater variety of variants and shorter product lifecycles. This change means shorter planning horizons with falling batch sizes for production. The smart factory, i.e. the intelligent factory of the future, has a fascinating response to this challenge: Industry 4.0. In this fourth phase of the industrial revolution, the real and virtual worlds merge to produce intelligently networked and self-controlling production systems. Production processes can thereby be vastly optimised with increased flexibility and use of fewer resources.
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