Consortium Project »Facing the Smart Future«: Smart Products, Production and Services

In cooperation with experts from research and industry, KEX Knowledge Exchange AG started a second round of the consortium project “Facing the Smart Future”, which focuses on smart products, smart production and smart services.

Here you will find information and news regarding the study progress.

First Project Round

Start: 22nd October 2015
End: 20th October 2016


Second Project Round

Start: 19th April 2016
End: 8th Feburary 2017

Companies of the First Round:

Study Motivation

  • Digitalization (incl. integration of networking capabilities into physical products) is no longer just affecting the consumer electronics industry
  • New paradigms regarding control and design of production processes are established
  • Diversity of relevant buzzwords: »Internet of Things«, »Industrie 4.0«, »The Industrial Internet« or »Smart Data«
  • What do these buzzwords really mean for companies, their product portfolio, production technologies and value-added services?

    ►In the consortium project we aim to get answers to these and many other questions.


Creating economic and technological transparency regarding actual developments in smart production, products and services

Exploring and analyzing market and technology trends and possible game-changing business models

Promoting valuable exchange and networking between the most relevant international industry partners

Key Questions

Market / Application

Smart Services

  • What game-changing business models will affect the markets?
  • How can the relation between supplier and customer be designed?

Smart Products

  • What »smart« functionalities will differentiate products?
  • How can networked products lead to after-sales revenues?

Smart Production

  • What potential does smart manufacturing offer in different industries?
  • How can time-to-market and lead time be improved?
Applications & Enabler of Industrie 4.0

Technology / Enabler

Smart Sensors

  • Which sensors can be integrated into mass production at competitive prices?
  • How can collected data be leveraged for added customer value?

Smart Data

  • Which data access platforms and analysis technologies will be important?
  • How can big data be analyzed and integrated to reduce costs?

Smart Networks

  • Which infrastructure standards will become ubiquitous?
  • How can heterogeneous autonomous devices securely interact to address market demands?

Network of Experts

The consortium project...

  • is based on extensive knowledge and previous projects done by the research partners in the context of »Industrie 4.0«
  • leverages the pooled expertise in the consortium
  • builds an expert network that enables knowledge and information generation and exchange across value creation stages and business sectors
  • brings together all experts and decision makers involved with smart products, services and production

    ► Benefit from the opportunities provided by our network and determine which innovations will soon be cutting edge in the market!

Target Markets


Aerospace & Defense

Electronics & ICT

Medical & Healthcare

Transportation & Logistics

Energy & Storage


Engineering & Manufacturing


Study Approach

Each round of the study is divided into three phases:

Phase 1 - Pilot Study

Generating an overview on the status-quo of market applications, relevant trends and technologies.

Phase 2 - Technology / Market Analysis

Providing detailed information on selected applications regarding technological opportunities and market potential.

Phase 3 - Business Cases

Deriving comprehensive business cases on selected highlight applications regarding technological feasibility and market competitiveness.

Study News

Here you will find current news on the progression of the study “Facing the Smart Future”. If you have further questions, please contact us!



First Report Meeting of the consortium study “Facing the Smart Future: Smart Products, Production and Services”

The First Report Meeting of the consortium study “Facing the Smart Future” took place in the premises of the KEX AG in Aachen on February 25th 2016. Over 40 partners of renowned, international companies like Audi, Alfred Kärcher, Covestro and LG participated in the event.

The intermediate results of the study were represented by the specific experts and discussed in groups within the scope of two workshop sessions. Afterwards the partners had the opportunity to vote for the most interesting smart solutions/ applications. This offers the partners the possibility to influence the focus of the study.

In particular, the keynote speech of Prof. Dr. Frank Piller on “Managing Business Model Innovation in the Age of Industrie 4.0” received positive feedback. Moreover the partners had the opportunity to get together, network and exchange their views on the future of smart products, production and services.

A guided tour through the demonstration factory completed a successful meeting. The demonstration factory is a key element of the Smart Logistics Cluster on the RWTH Aachen Campus on the basis of the close integration between praxis, research and further education.

The Second Report Meeting of the study will be held in June 2016.



Kick-off meeting of the consortium study “Facing the Smart Future”

On the 22nd of October 2015, KEX AG and its partners – Fraunhofer IPT, WZL and FIR at the RWTH Aachen University, as well as the Demonstration Factory GmbH – kicked off the consortium study “Facing the Smart Future”. The consortium is now composed of 22 leading companies from different industries, including e.g. Covestro, Hella, 3M, LG Electronics and Audi.

During the kick-off meeting, around 70 participants had the opportunity of presenting their expectations and objectives and thus influencing the direction and focus of the study. Furthermore, participants were able to network and to discuss further topics regarding smart production, products and services.

The next meeting is going to be held on February 2016, in which the first results will be presented.

About KEX

KEX Knowledge Exchange AG

KEX Knowledge Exchange AG is a professional technology and market information provider. The aim of KEX is to bring relevant and customized technical knowledge right to the point.

As a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, KEX can look back on more than 20 years of experience in the methodical structuring, processing and interpretation of knowledge. Since we are located at the very heart of a broad network of experts, we are in constant contact with the latest technology trends and directly involved with the development of innovations.

Not only the technical expertise and the unique network of experts, but also the comprehensive access to exclusive information sources allow KEX to scan, scout and monitor technologies and markets effectively. To ensure quality, relevance and timeliness of all information, we use own knowledge management systems and develop them continuously. The information found is finally analyzed and evaluated by our experts regarding the specific questions of our customers. Therefore we can guarantee that all information provided by us is not only exclusive, but also customer-specific.

In sum: We provide the basis for your decisions.

Your Personal Contact

Dr. Alexander Kermer-Meyer

Technology Manager

KEX Knowledge Exchange AG

Phone +49 241 51031 619


Research Partners

Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT

  • Founded in 1980; 415 employees
  • Business portfolio: Turbomachinery, Tool Making, Optics, Lightweight Technologies, Life Sciences Engineering, Integrated Mechatronic System
  • Knowledge and experience in all fields of production technology for developing and optimizing solutions for modern production facilities

Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of RWTH Aachen

  • Founding year: 1906
  • 760 employees
  • 16,000 m² offices and laboratories
  • Business portfolio: Manufacturing Technology, Gearing Technology, Machine Tools, Metrology and Quality Management, Production Engineering and Production Management
  • Knowledge and experience in all fields of production engineering and production management for developing and optimizing solutions for modern production facilities

Demonstration Factory of RWTH Aachen Campus

  • Founding year: 2013
  • Small-scale production of marketable products with a high vertical range of manufacture on 1,600 m²
  • Application, exploration and further development of Industrie 4.0 solutions with industrial and research partners
  • Implementation of smart systems enabling transparent and consistent order tracking on the shop floor
  • Further education in a real production environment

Institute for Industrial Management at RWTH Aachen

  • Founding year: 1953
  • Industry-oriented research in the areas service management, information management and production management
  • Part of the initiative for excellence in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)


KEX Knowledge Exchange AG

Campus-Boulevard 57

52074 Aachen




Press and Public Relations

Phone +49 241 51031 628

Fax +49 241 51031 9628

Head Office:

Aachen - District Court Aachen, HRB 14545


Supervisory Board:

Prof. Dr. Günther Schuh (Chairman)

Dr. Stephan Krumm

Dr. Ulrich Hermann  

Board of Directors:

Toni Drescher (CEO)

Markus Wellensiek (CFO)


VAT No.: DE 258300450