SMEs 4.0: Companies and employees shape the digital transformation


Free training events for small and middle-sized enterprises 

  Three people in a factory Copyright: © WZL SME 4.0 means empowering companies and employees to actively shape the digital transformation

The fourth industrial revolution, known under the buzzword Industry 4.0, represents a major challenge for companies as a complex of sensor technology, virtualization and networking: Technical requirements must be covered and changes in the work environment must be taken into account. Due to partially non-existent resources and capacities as well as an inadequate technical infrastructure, it is often difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular to manage the digital transformation independently.

While many companies are addressing the digital transformation through technical investments or research partnerships, the first steps can often be made using low-cost or even free technologies. From the user perspective, however, far more important than meeting technical requirements are usually the changes in the working environment of employees towards Work 4.0. This results in a double qualification requirement for companies: Technical innovations and requirements for personnel management must not only be understood, but also implemented in a goal-oriented manner.

The project “Companies and employees shape the digital transformation (SME 4.0)”, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and led by the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) at RWTH Aachen University addressed these very challenges and helped SMEs to take their first steps into the digital transformation. In close cooperation with the German MTM Association and five partners, a concept for knowledge and competence development was designed based on the fields of action “In-Company Learning Projects”, “Qualification of Staff” and “Cooperations”. The focus laid on the empowerment of employees and the development of internal resources in order to counter the digital transformation actively in accordance with the current situation.


Event formats for the digital transformation

After successfully completing the project in September 2019, it was extended by a one-year transfer phase. The extension aims to make the contents available to a broad mass and to enter into direct exchange in order to achieve a long-term anchoring of the results. The event formats, including seminars, web seminars, workshops, lectures, discussion rounds or online self-assessment, are aimed at SMEs, business associations and interest groups as well as research projects or initiatives. The first of these is a series of web seminars on the following dates:

  • ­May 18, 2020: Web Seminars „Cooperations“
  • ­May 28, 2020: Web Seminars „Deep Dive – Operational Learning Projects“
  • ­June 02, 2020: Web Seminars „Qualification Concept“

On the following Website, you will find further information on the web seminars and the corresponding access links. The use of the transfer services is free of charge. If you are interested, formats with individual topics can also be organized. Further information on the project can be found on the project’s homepage.