Five Years of Sino-German Cooperation on Standardization in Industry 4.0


Since 2015, the Sino-German Sub-Working Group Industry 4.0 has been working on international standardization for digitized industrial production. A success story accompanied by the Standardization Council Industrie 4.0 and the Global Project Quality Infrastructure.

More than 100 experts gathered virtually on 15 October for the meeting of the Sino-German Sub-Working Group Industrie 4.0. Despite being held virtually, a familiar atmosphere quickly prevailed. After all, many of the participants have a history of intensively working together.


Dr. Jens Gayko presenting UAG I.40 work results at the 2018 meeting in Heidelberg. Photo: Gerhard Kopatz

"We look back on five valuable years. The result? Ten meetings with an inspiring exchange of ideas and exciting findings, which we were able to record in 13 remarkable publications. I would like to thank all those involved," emphasizes Dr Jens Gayko Managing Director of the Standardization Council Industrie 4.0 (SCI 4.0).


The experts come from German and Chinese standardization institutions, companies and trade associations. Together, they are developing proposals for the standardization of Industry 4.0 - the digitization of industrial production. The Sub-Working Group emerged from the Sino-German Standardization Cooperation Commission founded in 2011. It promotes joint standardization and the reduction of technical barriers to trade between the two countries.


Setting international standards together


So far, seven technical expert groups for future-oriented topics have been established. They work on the implementation of a digital twin for industry 4.0, on artificial intelligence and on functional safety. Their standardization efforts provide key impulses for international bodies such as the ISO/IEC Joint Working Group 21 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).


Despite the restrictions imposed by the corona pandemic, the fifth year of cooperation was productive. At the 10th plenary session, the experts presented important publications as a result of their work. With the Examples of Business Scenarios, they described for the first time how different business scenarios can affect digitization in the manufacturing industry. Their publication SME Testbed Program Proposal discusses the opportunities in international standardization for small and medium-sized enterprises in both countries.


Furthermore, the White Paper on Functional Safety in Industry 4.0 was published in August. The paper highlights the concept of technical safety and analyzes the influence of the development of Industry 4.0 on international safety technology standardization. A joint international standardization proposal is now to be drawn based on the White Paper.


Photo: Gerhard Kopatz

Sino-German Cooperation: Benefiting from mutual opportunities


The fact that Germany is working together with China to harmonize international standards for Industry 4.0 is a logical step since China is an important trading partner. In 2019, the volume of trade between the two countries was more than 200 billion euros. Both sides are currently international pioneers in standardization in which Industry 4.0 is a key topic for both countries.


Since 2017, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) has been supporting the international harmonization of national Industry 4.0 concepts through the German Standardization Council Industry 4.0 (SCI 4.0) with the project "GoGlobal Industry 4.0". The German Standardization Roadmap Industry 4.0 plays an important role here. It defines recommendations for action in national and international standardization and forms the foundation for cooperation.


Many actors, one goal


Numerous political and economic interests flow into the cooperation, hence amounting to a large number of participating actors. The cooperation was initiated by the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).


The German SCI 4.0 and the Chinese Intelligent Manufacturing Standardization Administration Group (IMSG) are responsible for the technical management. On the German side, the SCI represents the German Institute for Standardization (DIN e.V.) and the German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (DKE). On behalf of the BMWi, the Global Project Quality Infrastructure (GPQI) of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH coordinates the activities and advises stakeholders.


Plenty has happened since the first meeting of the expert panel in 2015. The industry’s digital transformation is developing dynamically, and the Sub-Working Group Industry 4.0 is keeping pace. It supports the industry in optimizing the potential of this digital revolution by creating the framework for quality and security using meaningful standards.


Go back