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Industry 4.0_Glossary

Everyone is talking about Industry 4.0, digitization, big data and cloud technology just to name a few. Here you can find definitions and descriptions of most terms regarding the fourth industrial revolution.

Administration Shell

_All data in a single shell. The administration shell is the virtual image of a hardware or software component in a production process, containing all the specific production data. This data opens the way to entirely new possibilities and added value in networked production. One decisive benefit is that all information – from CAD data and maintenance information through to configuration details – is located in one place without media discontinuity. Data and functions are available on the component itself, in the company network and/or in the cloud. This collection of information results in an all-encompassing knowledge which, once stored, can be made available for any user and any application.


_Expertise from the cloud. Apps for industrial scenarios – programs for defined, specific applications – are the answer that experienced specialists with extensive process and industry know-how offer up for customers’ challenges. Intelligent mobile apps make modern companies Industrie 4.0-capable. KUKA offers apps for a wide range of challenges across the entire value chain – in manufacturing, for example, their functionalities encompass Maintenance Services through Asset Management to Demand Planning.

App Store

_New capabilities on demand. Already equipped for the future: for generations, KUKA robot controllers have featured a modular and scalable configuration on the basis of mainstream technologies. Among other things, KUKA has thus created the foundation for making smart tools available via app stores and marketplaces. Intelligent digital forms or complete applications, such as those familiar today from well-known app stores for smartphones, tablets or computers, and which endow robots with new capabilities and functions on demand at the click of a mouse. For example, programs that only require entry of the desired parameters. With regard to Industry 4.0, the immediate availability of new production capabilities will open up a whole new dimension of versatility for robots.

Artificial Intelligence

_Machines as intelligent partners. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the step required for implementing the fourth stage of the robotic revolutions. It presupposes that machines, information systems and robots are capable of becoming still much more intelligent and responsive. In the fields of service robotics and home assisted living, these intelligent machines with their cognitive and sensitive capabilities will become increasingly important as helpers for humans. Today, these systems are still fully dependent on programming by humans. As the degree of autonomy of the systems increases, however, the issue of responsible management of artificial intelligence will become ever more pressing.

Batch Size 1

_Unique, one-off products for everyone. Industry 4.0 is creating the basis for implementing the highest levels of customization – all the way down to batch size 1 – within industrial manufacturing. This means high-quality, single-piece production at the price of current uniform, mass-produced goods. The networking of all systems involved in production, and their extreme flexibility, will make the fulfillment of individual customer requirements a matter of routine in the smart factory. While the desire for customized products is already a megatrend today, it will develop to become one of the decisive competitive factors in the near future. This trend not only offers new market opportunities for products, but also gives traditional industrial nations the option to return previously outsourced production capacity to locations in high-wage countries.

Big Data

_Data is the new oil. The term “Big Data” refers to quantities of data that are too large or too complex, that change too quickly or are too weakly structured for them to be evaluated with manual and conventional methods of data processing. In this context, experts talk about an inconceivably large data volume of currently more than eight zettabytes – with an increasing tendency. A substantial proportion of this already comes from the Internet of Things (IoT) and from the ever more numerous sensors in machines and vehicles. Data is increasingly being generated in real time. In connection with Industry 4.0, however, it is the ability to evaluate and process this flood of data that is of paramount interest. That is how Big Data becomes Smart Data. The challenge is therefore not only for IT systems to be able to handle heterogeneous data correctly but also for them to analyze the data in order to create a reliable basis for business decisions – preferably in real time. Only in this way can processes be controlled intelligently and adapted to changing parameters. Taking the metaphor further, Big Data is thus the new oil of the 21st century.

Cloud Robotics

_Shared intelligence. Nowadays smartphones, tablets and computers utilize data and processing power from the cloud as a matter of course. In the context of Industry 4.0, robots too will be able to access decentralized data in networks or in the cloud, thereby significantly boosting their performance and flexibility. The robot itself will only require a small chip to control functionality, motion and mobility. For the task at hand, specific services will be retrieved from the cloud or individual robots networked on an ad hoc basis to form temporary production teams. In this way, specialists will become universalists that can be used for a wide range of different manufacturing processes. Cloud robotics enables the implementation of a broad spectrum of different industry-specific applications via “Robotics as a Service”. Another effect of the cloud: robots learn from one another. If one robot encounters an obstacle, for example, it posts this information to the connected systems, which can use it to respond intelligently to the obstacle.

Condition Monitoring

_Seamless condition monitoring. To ensure maximum efficiency, it is nowadays essential to monitor machines and production plants digitally. In the context of condition monitoring, sensors measure the condition of systems using a wide range of physical measured values such as vibration, temperature or speed. The data obtained is then used to determine maintenance measures and early fault detection, thus ensuring a longer service life and an optimised production process.

Collaborative Robots

_Hand in hand. Collaborative robots – sometimes also known as “cobots” for short – are robots that are capable of human-robot collaboration (HRC) and work hand-in-hand with their human colleagues. As collaborative robots operate without physical safeguards, they have to permanently calculate the risk of colliding with humans, constantly checking this via the robot controller. The strict safety requirements have been redefined in the revised EN ISO 10218 standard, parts 1 and 2, and in the ISO/TS 15066 specification initially drafted in 2010. Besides the robot itself, the standard also covers the adapted end-of-arm tooling with which the robot performs its tasks, and the objects moved with it. With the LBR iiwa, KUKA has made the world’s first series-produced, collaborative lightweight robot for industrial applications ready for the market, thereby proving that the visions of Industry 4.0 can be turned into reality.


_Strong alliances with KUKA. As a leading supplier of intelligent automation solutions, KUKA is directly involved in Industry 4.0 and sees itself as responsible for forming strong alliances with the goal of actively shaping the factory of the future together with other key players. That is why KUKA is a member of all major national and international advocacy groups and committees, such as the Industry 4.0 Platform coordinated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Industrial Internet Consortium IIC, the OPC Foundation, the German industry association VDMA and the associations BITKOM and VDE. As a trailblazer for Industry 4.0, KUKA is a sought-after interlocutor for decision-makers in the worlds of politics, research, and business.

Data Ownership

_Who owns the data? The data must belong to their originator. A principle that is regrettably contested in the cloud. The open exchange of data and information, however, is a vital ingredient of Industry 4.0. Information that was generated in the company prior to storage in the cloud is generally subject to local copyright laws. But if the data are created in the cloud, things become somewhat more ambiguous. Cloud providers have a different approach to dealing with user data in terms of access rights and at times create confusion as to ownership. It is therefore important to ensure transparency in the use of cloud services and to select secure encryption for all data sent to the cloud. This gives users control over their data and thus some form of ownership, regardless of legal issues. Particularly with a view to the horizontal networking of various companies within a production process, the question of data sovereignty is of central importance. With cloud solutions meeting the highest data security standards, KUKA offers unique platforms on the basis of which customers can exchange their own data with others or enrich them with new intelligence and additional information.

Decentralized Intelligence

_Intelligence evolves in the swarm. Decentralized intelligence will play an important role in Industry 4.0: all parties can communicate with one another – workpiece with machine, machine with machine or with higher-level processes. No central “brain” will control and monitor the things, but rather autonomous production units will carry out this function for both heterogeneous and homogeneous teams. Decentrality makes for greater flexibility and quicker decisions. Intelligence evolves in the swarm or through joint networking with the cloud.

Demographic Change

_Society is getting ever older. In principle, the term “demographic change” is a neutral reference to any alteration in the age structure of a society. At present, however, it is being widely used as a synonym for increasing overaging in the industrial nations. A trend that is diametrically opposed to the rapid growth of the global population. By the year 2020, more than half of the German population will already be over 50 years of age. An ever smaller number of people in employment will have to generate the entire productive output for the social systems. This challenge can only be met if the remaining workers become considerably more productive than all generations before them. At the same time, opportunities must be created for older, experienced employees to participate in the world of work for longer. In order to make new working environments both highly productive and ergonomically beneficial for the labor force, KUKA is developing central key technologies for Industry 4.0: collaborative robots, mobile assistance systems, autonomously controlled vehicles and smart, digitized automation solutions that support humans in the work setting, easing the workload in a variety of ways.

Development Community

_Innovating together. Intelligent solutions benefit from the expertise of many creative professionals. KUKA offers interested developers access to a powerful platform that serves as a central point of contact for exchanging a vast variety of information. This community assists its members with expertise, support and resources. This platform by developers for developers, a “KDN – KUKA Developer Network” so to speak, facilitates the very exchange of information that makes the added value of team creativity fruitful. The bundled expertise further strengthens the potential of the KUKA ecosystem. As an example, the platform makes it easier for start-ups to generate business processes and develop new business models.

Digital Business Transformation

_Creating the business of the future. Digitization is upending a large number of existing business models. Networked automation, intelligent processes, shared expertise across companies and industries, and a holistic view of the value chain with involvement of the ustomer – these are the characteristics of digitized business models. They open up completely new business opportunities and options, and offer competitive advantages – and only they make it possible to fulfill customer requirements optimally. There is no economically successful future without the digitization of business models. With its own Consulting center of excellence, KUKA is assisting companies along the way to a digital future.

Digital Customer Journey

_Journey through the digital business landscape. In general terms, the “Customer Journey” represents the sequence of (digital) contacts that a customer may encounter when dealing with another company. Depending upon the issue, the first point of contact and subsequent contacts may vary. If a purchase is intended, for example, the customer’s journey may start off with the links in a search engine request or a rating portal, followed by a shop visit. The app store and support website are other possible starting points that are implemented in industry. For business-to-business processes, the initial contact may take place through the business cloud instead of a website, for instance by visiting a developer platform. KUKA serves its customers as a hub for organizing their digital journey.

Digital Shadow

_Virtual image of real things. The digital shadow is a digital image of a real object. This data contains both the current status and the desired status of the object, the possible ways and processes for achieving this desired status, and the history of what the object has already gone through. Only through the combination of a digital shadow and a physical object does a smart thing result. Every physical product can be manufactured more efficiently and with higher quality in the digitized production facility if a digital shadow has been created for it and it bears its own specific DNA.

Digital Value Chain

_Transcending all boundaries. The digital supply chain merges the major business processes of all parties involved – from the suppliers to the manufacturer and the end customer. The potential of a digitized value chain lies primarily in the acceleration of the production and logistics processes, the reduction of effort for data acquisition and the optimization of data security and consistency. With integrated networking, the digital value chain is able to overcome current media discontinuity. One example from the field of procurement: where a steel-processing company previously had to activate a complicated process via different media for purchasing and replenishment, in the future purchasing will be automated on the basis of predefined parameters. Companies today are already making use of digital value chains to optimize individual production islands and processes within their organization. In the factory of tomorrow, the digital supply chain will also encompass global procedures across company boundaries, controlling them largely autonomously. As the most flexible machine ever conceived by man, the robot plays a central role in the digital supply chain. In its function as the core component of intelligent automation solutions, it increases the entrepreneurial freedom of action, creates competitive advantages, speeds up production processes and assures quality in the long term. Integration into the KUKA Connect platform accelerates the conversion to a digitized value chain.


_Potential of the digital transformation. Converting real products and analog sequences into digital data and processes is referred to as digitization. In Industry 4.0, people, machines and industrial processes are networked on the basis of cyber-physical systems incorporating state-of-the-art information and communications technology. In this context, the intelligent exchange and interpretation of data determine the entire life cycle of a product: from the idea to development, manufacturing, use and maintenance through to recycling. Production and logistics processes will be globally networked beyond the factory gates in the future for the purpose of optimizing the flow of materials, detecting non-conforming parameters at an early stage and enabling a highly flexible reaction to changing customer requirements and market conditions.

Edge Cloud Gateway

_The Cable Modem of the shop floor. Much like a DSL Router connects peripherals to the Internet, an edge cloud gateway connects the various devices at the production level to a network or a cloud environment via EtherNet or wireless / mobile connection, so that data can be collected, exchanged and processed. Features such as secure communication and quality of service are implemented.


_Flexibility in all dimensions. Flexibility is the ability to react quickly to changing influences. In the smart factory, utmost flexibility results primarily from the combination of IT technologies, such as the Cloud and Big Data, with intelligent, generic production units incorporating robots and autonomously controlled mobile units. The factory of the future will not have any predefined routes or rigid processes. Mobile units will equip robots “on the fly” with other tools, enabling them quickly to carry out new tasks or process other workpieces. The smart factory is therefore able to manufacture different products or product versions without any significant retooling times. It thus completely redefines the concept of flexibility in production.


_The programming kit. Generally speaking, a framework is a defined structure for the programming of software or dynamic websites. So-called “pre-programs” allow developers to save time: frequently recurring program steps are already pre-programmed and can simply be called up when needed. Thus, it is no longer necessary to repeat certain functions and computer tasks. Frameworks provide valuable support particularly for quickly programming apps. In robotics, a framework provides software components for industrial use. This includes algorithms, libraries and methodological know-how. Standardized interfaces and appropriate middleware make it easy to replace hardware and software components. This simplifies and speeds up application development in automation.

Individualized Production

_Meeting every customer requirement. Individualized, or customized, production refers to the concept of an intelligent, highly automated production system that allows high variance and dynamism in the product range with production costs at the level of mass production. The goal is to resolve the conflict between the customer’s desire for individualization and the process efficiency of production in an industrial setting. A batch size of 1 is the highest level of customized production. Besides proprietary solutions in the automotive sector, Industry 4.0 with its universally networked production environments represents the world’s most advanced approach for implementing customized production.

Industry 4.0

_Production meets digitization. Industry 4.0, Smart Production or Internet of Things (IoT) – even if the names and terms used vary from one country to another, they all share the same goal. What is called for here is nothing less than a long-term transformation of our global perception of industrial production through the seamless connection of the digital and real worlds. KUKA is at the interface between these two worlds and is playing a decisive role in advancing this transformation as a thought leader and trailblazer for Industry 4.0. It was back in the 1990s that KUKA as a first mover recognized the potential to be gained by combining the world of IT with conventional automation technologies. The company was also the world’s first robot manufacturer to develop open, interoperable and flexible systems on the basis of standardized mainstream technologies and to make them ready for the market. In collaboration with experts from diverse sectors, KUKA is now already implementing highly flexible, digitized manufacturing processes that will open up new opportunities in a competitive environment and lastingly change the way we work and produce. KUKA supports companies with the digitization of production across industries – from small and medium-sized companies to large OEMs. This provides a platform for anyone who is ready to step into the world of Industry 4.0.

Internet of Automation (IoA)/ Internet of Robotics (IoR)

_Basis for efficient production. Both the Internet of Automation (IoA) and the Internet of Robotics (IoR) make use of defined open communications and data standards to network interoperable production processes even across company boundaries. In the IoR for example, KUKA robots, the KUKA App Store, middleware and monitoring tools are networked to form a highly efficient production environment in which analog and digital devices can easily communicate with one another. In the near future, it will be possible for all the cyberphysical elements involved in the automated manufacturing process to be networked in the IoA and to communicate with the IoR. Extensive standardization of protocols and technologies is required for this Internet-based infrastructure. See also Committees.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

_The cloud as a data centre. In order to optimally master the transformation to Industry 4.0, it is essential to store the acquired data in a cost- and effort-efficient manner. IaaS (short for Infrastructure as a Service) describes a model of cloud computing in which the external, virtual infrastructure of a service provider is used. For example, the service provider provides computing, network and service capacities, storage space or backup systems, which the company can access via an internet connection.

Internet of Things (IoT)

_Everything communicates with everything. Like Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT) postulates a network of physical objects - devices, vehicles, houses and other objects - that are equipped with electronic components, software and sensors and are all interoperably connected via the internet. In contrast to Industry 4.0, IoT does not speak very clearly of all things that could be connected to the cloud. Thus, IoT also covers the private sphere, such as the smart home applications already known today. Strictly speaking, the smart factories of Industry 4.0 and all the production and logistics processes they contain are part of IoT. In the industrial sector, this is referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Machines and products exchange data and thus optimise processes. "Artificial Intelligence of Things" (AIoT) also includes artificial intelligence technologies.


_Everything works together. Interoperability (IOP) describes the ability of an object, device or machine to communicate with other things in the network. It must be able to do so regardless of whether the devices are from the same or different manufacturers. Interoperability is a fundamental precondition for creating a layer that enables cyber-physical systems to be interconnected such that interactions are possible without the participants knowing which technologies the implemented devices are based on. It is also the basis for the capability of the things in the network to communicate without any restrictions and to act intelligently as a swarm. See also Committees.


iiQKA _Robots for the People. Simple automation for everyone - whether you are a newcomer or an expert. Based on the intuitive iiQKA.OS operating system and digital ecosystem from KUKA, iiQKA creates a robotics world in which everything fits together at the touch of a button, works quickly and can be controlled intuitively. All components, such as grippers, safety sensors and optical vision systems, right through to the software, can be put together without much effort and simply put into operation. Intuitive self-help, easy expandability and clear governance throughout ensure iiQKA users reliable access to KUKA and third-party solutions.

_Data-based automation made easy. What is the condition of the robot fleet and how efficiently is it working? KUKA iiQoT provides all important data in real time: from the hardware to the software to the controller. The central IIoT platform bundles the data of a robot fleet transparently and clearly in a dashboard that can be accessed around the clock. Whether system management, preventive maintenance, error detection or warning messages, KUKA iiQoT provides supplementary orientation parameters to easily interpret messages and keep errors efficient. Individual modules are stored on the IIoT platform, which can be supplemented at any time on a customer-specific basis. This makes it easy to find one's way around and provides valuable functions depending on industrial application needs. This avoids downtimes and maximises uptime.

KMP omniMove

_Strong on the move. Wherever size, load-bearing capacity and precision are required, the KMP omniMove heavy-duty mobile platform is in its element. Individually or as part of a fleet, the KMP omniMove can effortlessly move beneath, and lift, workpieces weighing more than 90 tonnes and move in any desired direction with millimeter precision from a standing start, thanks to the multidirectional omniWheels. The KMP omniMove can move autonomously, under guidance along a programmed path or conventionally under manual control.

KMR iiwa

_Experience new horizons. Shorter reaction times and greater flexibility beyond full automation: these are the requirements of markets that are changing ever faster. The industrial production of the future requires modular, versatile and above all mobile production and manufacturing concepts. That is why the KMR iiwa combines the sensitive and compliant lightweight robot LBR iiwa with KUKA's mobile platform technology to form a new, intelligent and freely movable combination that operates in the environment of humans. Like humans, KUKA Mobile Robots (KMR) can follow moving workpieces, move freely around them and connect solitary production islands to form new production units. In cleanroom design, the Mobile Cleanroom Cobots guarantee the safe transport and handling of sensitive components such as wafers, masks, carriers in the electronics industry.


_Large-dimension e-mobility. Anyone thinking big and looking for flexible mobility will find the perfect powerful partner in the KMR QUANTEC. The combination of KUKA six-axis robots, mobile platforms, high-performance energy storage units and industrialgrade components creates a mobile solution for virtually any scenario. Despite its strength, the KMR QUANTEC is characterized by outstanding precision and maximum electromobility. Its small power plant supplies it with electricity for a full eight-hour shift. The position and number of robots installed are variable, as too are the size and payload capacity of the platform. Grippers, power-hungry tools and special equipment can also be transported on the KMR QUANTEC and continuously supplied with power.

LBR iisy

_Smart supporter. The Cobot LBR iisy takes on a wide range of tasks in application areas and industries where speed, precision and dexterity are crucial - in machine loading and unloading for pick and place tasks, in handling as well as in packaging and testing. It is intuitive to operate, flexible to use. The Cobot runs on the iiQKA.OS operating system and can be easily installed, configured and programmed. The tasks are taught very simply by hand guidance. Thanks to the smartPAD pro operating device, it can be controlled as easily as a smartphone. Its low weight, compact design and integrated sensors make it a flexible helper in production.


_Now. Everything. Always. Customized products and same-day delivery – customers have a growing expectation that everything will be available in all places, at all times. This ubiquity places the utmost demands on the logistics and process chains and is increasingly embracing the stationary retail sector and the structure of merchandise flows. The boundaries between individual delivery channels are successively vanishing and modern distribution centers are often being set up directly in metropolitan areas thanks to the reduced space requirements. Changes that can only be addressed through highly transparent, digitized networking of production and logistics. In this context, KUKA sees itself as a solution provider translating the individual requirements of the market participants into flexible, networked and software-supported logistics concepts.

M2M Communication Protocol

_The universal communicator. Machine-to-machine communication, or M2M, is the automatic exchange of information between machines. These may be vastly different end devices, from production machines through vending machines to vehicles or household appliances. A standardized set of rules is needed for M2M communication to work – in modern terms: a protocol. Such a standardized software interface enables universal communication. The most promising protocol at this time is the Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA).

Machine Learning

_Knowledge through experience. Intelligent machines garner their knowledge through experience. In the case of networked machines, it is irrelevant whether the experience is their own or originates from swarm intelligence. An artificial system always learns by comparing the desired objective and any anomalies that occur. It can recognize correlations, patterns and general rules, draw conclusions from them and modify its future behavior, this synthetic process being referred to as machine learning. Especially in unstructured environments and with highly flexible processes like Industry 4.0, machine learning in a swarm or in the cloud is an effective method of adapting production processes intelligently and autonomously to the individual framework practically in real time.

Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS)/ Robotics as a Service (RaaS)

_Access rather than ownership. Digitization has substantially changed the approach to physical possession. This is increasingly being replaced by temporary access to goods or services. The best example: music streaming. What has already become an everyday situation in many consumer segments will also revolutionize the industrial environment over the next few years. As the name implies, manufacturing processes are provided as a service when offering “Manufacturing as a Service”: the machine does not change ownership, and only the service of the machine is paid for (for example in the form of a cost-per-uptime model). What applies to complete production systems will, in the future, also hold true for individual elements within a manufacturing facility – for robots, for example. On the basis of a “pay-per-use” model, it will not be the physical object itself that is purchased in conjunction with “Robotics as a Service”, but rather its performance, such as weld spots in vehicle body production, for instance. The smart factory of the future integrates these services seamlessly into its production processes and thus has the capability of reacting to varying capacity requirements and goods flows exceedingly flexibly and efficiently while conserving resources at the same time. Ultimately, these business models uproot traditional ideas of what a value chain may look like: the principle of shared production will become more important, allowing the end user to act as a co-producer. If desired, KUKA Consulting analyzes the business models of companies to determine whether they can be marketed profitably as a service (“Product as a Service”).


_What makes the world go round. Customization, digitization, responsible use of natural resources and demographic changes are the megatrends that will need to be mastered in the coming decades. With a forecast world population of eight billion by the year 2025 and ten billion by 2060, ever more customer requirements of increasing diversity will need to be satisfied. At the same time, demographic changes will be confronting industrialized and emerging countries with economic and social challenges over the long term. Humanity is thus facing a fundamental paradigm shift which will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for our worldwide economic systems. That is why Industry 4.0 does not describe a purely technical innovation scenario but rather a way in which intelligent technology can help to overcome the global challenges of the 21st century. As a thought leader and trailblazer for Industry 4.0, KUKA is working on production environments that increase economic efficiency while also using resources responsibly, which make high-quality goods more affordable and which are instrumental in sustainably improving human working conditions in factories.

Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT)

_Decoupled server communication. The standards-based messaging protocol MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is used for communication between machines (M2M) and between machines and the Internet of Things (IoT). By interposing a central message broker with MQTT, the communication partners are decoupled from each other and thus the technical effort in the end devices is reduced. This ensures efficient data transmission even in networks with limited bandwidth and high delay rates.


_Multi-faceted middleware. Middleware is software that enables data exchange between the operating system and the applications running on it. It acts as a translator between the frontend and the backend, ensuring an efficient linking of applications and a simplified design process.


_Robots on the advance. The production of the future requires greater flexibility – for both faster manufacturing and customized products. One indispensable prerequisite for creating a higher degree of flexibility in industrial environments is greater mobility. This can be achieved by means of episodic, periodic or permanent mobility concepts that each bring about acceleration in industrial production in their own specific ways. For this reason, KUKA is paving the way for this key technology with platforms that can move intelligently and autonomously in order to transport things or machine workpieces. They can find their own way if necessary, aligning themselves with workpieces to within a millimeter or even moving the robot to them. They are also capable of responding autonomously and adaptively to changing conditions in complex logistics and production chains. Mobile automation solutions from KUKA show today what the future holds in store for highly flexible production in Industry 4.0.

Monitoring & Stream Analytics/ Micro Services

_Data in real time. Monitoring and stream analytics compare and analyze data that is available to the smart factory from diverse sources – devices, sensors, infrastructure, etc. In real time they make comparisons with data records from the past, recognize anomalies and are able to categorize faults with the aid of machine learning. On this basis, intelligent systems initiate immediate countermeasures and generate forecasts and recommended actions for the future.

On Premises

_Software on board. On-premises solutions rely on the infrastructure of the company’s in-house IT. The deployment model of such software can be designed as a service and thus take on the function of a “local cloud”.

Open Platform Communications United Architecture (OPC UA)

_Communicate securely from the device to the cloud. The OPC UA communication standard (short for: Open Platform Communications United Architecture) describes machine data semantically in order to make it readable for all devices, regardless of manufacturer, programming language or operating system. For end customers and operators of cells and systems, this is important in order to minimise the integration effort and thus create a smooth production process. KUKA is therefore pushing OPC UA as a standardised communication protocol with great interest and is actively involved in the established committees.

People First

_Production and products for people. In the factory of the future, the focus of thought and action will shift to the human worker with his changed requirements, desires and capabilities. Networked and flexible production technologies combine the cost advantages of mass production with the customization potential of craft manufacturing. This means that the customers’ desire for high-quality individualized products does not lead to higher prices, as is currently the case. But humans are at the center of the future world of goods not only in their role as customers. Intelligent robots that collaborate with humans, and mobile assistance systems will improve the world of work in many different ways. They handle heavy loads, carry out activities that are not ergonomic or are simply too dangerous for people and perform tasks which require levels of precision and speed of which humans are not capable or which are cognitively stressful.

Predictive Maintenance

_Eliminating static maintenance intervals. Dependable production planning and maximum machine availability through the avoidance of unscheduled downtime are the practical advantages of what is internationally known as predictive maintenance. On the basis of real-time data, all relevant parameters of the machines involved in the manufacturing process are acquired and evaluated for anomalies by means of stream analytics. In a subsequent machine learning process, specific fault patterns and the causes of a problem are detected in good time. This results in fewer rejects and maximum availability over the entire life cycle of the production line. The requirements on machine operating times vary depending on the specific branch of industry and its product cycles. While this could be up to 30 years in the aerospace sector, it is a matter of just a few months in the case of fast-moving goods, such as smartphones. With the aim of enabling an accurate assessment of the future performance of the machine or one of its components, intelligent predictive maintenance systems interconnect the largest possible amount of data from decentralized sources for the purpose of analysis.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

_Develop applications in the cloud. The cloud computing service PaaS (short for: Platform as a Service) complements the hardware solution IaaS with a complete, cloud-based development and deployment environment. Via a secure internet connection, the user is able to create and manage modern applications and data. PaaS serves to simplify IT processes, accelerate business innovation and reduce security risks.

Preventive Maintenance

_Efficiently controlling necessary downtime. Preventive maintenance is usually carried out on the basis of fixed contracts, which provide for an inspection of critical elements of the production systems at regular intervals or at fixed times. This may include analyses and cleaning the machines, for example. One of the advantages offered is the easy-to-plan and predictable maintenance times, which serve to prevent unforeseen downtime and ultimately save costs.


_Available is the new cheap. Whereas in the past purchase decisions were often primarily made on the basis of the lowest price, in the future it will be the product that is available most quickly and with a high level of customization that will be at the top of consumers’ shopping lists. This necessitates new manufacturing and marketing methods and structures that will only become possible as a result of networked production in smart factories. Short distances will be an important factor in achieving fast availability. Due to the high degree of automation, production steps that are currently outsourced to low-wage countries can be repatriated to high-wage countries in a process known as “reshoring”. Irrespective of wage structures, intelligent automation allows cost-efficient and high-quality production in the vicinity of the consumers.

Resource Efficiency

_Sustainable production. The ability of humanity to handle the future will be determined by a responsible and sustainable approach to natural resources. In a just world, it may be assumed that ever more people will want to be supplied with ever better products. Flexible, intelligent and networked production as envisaged in Industry 4.0 offers the opportunity of using raw materials more efficiently and more sustainably along the entire value chain and recycling them to a great extent for the sake of the planet.

Robotic Governance 

_Creating a responsible future world for generation “R”. Robotic governance is a concept which, among other things, considers the ethical/moral, socio-cultural, socio-political and socio-economic effects of robotics on society and provides a framework for solving problems resulting from these changes. The governance principles include accountability, responsibility, transparency of structures and fairness. In this way, robotic governance helps to create a sustainable and responsible future world for the upcoming generation “R”.

Robotic Natives 

_Robots as natural companions. Future generations, “robotic natives”, will see robots as the state of the art, as a lifestyle, or quite simply as normal. Just as commonplace as smartphones and the Internet, for example, are for the digital natives of today. They will have overcome the old human versus machine antagonism. The robot-oriented generation will shape a society that not only works differently, but also thinks differently. They will see the capabilities of robots as universal, networkable services that can be requested via the Internet and flexibly adapted to the requirements and desires of the individual at the click of a mouse. While nowadays robots are primarily known as work assistants in industrial processes, in the future they will be found in all areas of our daily lives as driverless cars, robo-furniture, carebots and a wide range of home and personal assistants. By 2050, a robot in every household will be part of everyday life.


_No success without security. The issue of safety and security is one of the most multifaceted business aspects of modern companies. In the separate worlds of production (OT) and information (IT), a basic distinction is made between safety and security: in OT contexts, the term “safety” is used to refer to the safeguarding of people and machinery as well as the availability and reliability of production equipment. In the IT environment, the term “security” primarily relates to data security, integrity and confidentiality. OT and IT are merged in the networked world of Industry 4.0, which brings the issue of safety and security to a new level of complexity. The use of cloud models and the networking of entire companies and organizations exacerbates the security aspects (see also Data Ownership). KUKA Consulting offers well-founded advice on all safety and security questions and can draw on a broad network of expertise, including strategic alliances with international experts.

Service Robotics

_Robots enter daily life. Even today, useful robotic assistants are making everyday life easier. Small, specialized service robots, for example, have long since established themselves in our private sphere. They are deployed as assistants in the home – vacuuming, mowing the lawn or cleaning windows. As yet, their capabilities are mostly limited to a single task. However, they do demonstrate one thing: collaboration between humans and robots works in everyday life. Thanks to the progressive development of service robotics, robots will shape daily life in the future in various ways. Whether it be as a nursing robot in clinical settings, as helpers for the elderly at home or as assistants in many other areas which today sound futuristic. For the robotic natives of tomorrow, service robots will be as self-evident as smartphones are for people of the present.

Smart Data

_Intelligent data exchange. If Big Data is the oil of the future, then Smart Data is the fuel that drives the production of the future. Currently, data is just data. To turn it into information, it must be interpreted. This is the step from perception (recognizing) to cognition (understanding). Books, for example, are at first merely collections of letters. They only become knowledge when they are processed and interpreted in the brain. KUKA is developing smart data technologies for the digital domains in the age of Industry 4.0. In the context of intelligent automation, the central focus is on the topics of data communication, process modeling, machine learning, autonomous self-configuration and process optimization.

Smart Factory 

_Intelligent and self-organizing. The intelligent factory of the future is a production facility in which manufacturing systems, robots, logistics systems, products and their components are largely able to organize themselves autonomously. The smart factory is undergoing a paradigm shift towards an entirely new production logic: smart products, components, tools and machines are unambiguously identifiable, can be localized at all times and are aware of their history, their current status and multiple ways to the desired goal. With the smart factory’s high degree of flexibility, customization with a batch size of 1 will become reality in the context of industrial mass production. To achieve this, the production systems must, on the one hand, be networked vertically, for example with business processes within factories and companies. On the other hand, they must also be linked horizontally across company boundaries – from the purchase order through to outbound logistics – to create distributed value creation networks that can be controlled in real time.

Smart Platforms

_Intelligent and flexible. New, intelligent platforms will be created for the implementation of Industry 4.0. They will support collaborative industrial processes and use their services and applications to network people, things and systems. The result will ensure greater flexibility and a continuous flow of information: smart platforms will document the entire business process, work safely and reliably at all levels, and support mobile end devices and collaborative production, service, analysis and forecast processes along the entire digital supply chain. For the smart factory, KUKA already has modular software architectures in its portfolio, based on mainstream technologies and prepared for the entire evolutionary process of Industry 4.0. The Java platform of KUKA Sunrise makes it ideally suited to future app-based programs. Such a platform sets the stage for crossindustry digitization and thus increased value creation. This forms the foundation for the smart factory of the future.

Social Machines

_Interconnected. Intelligent. Flexible. Machines in production that are intelligently interconnected, communicate with one another and can instantaneously react to deviations and changes in an independent and situation-based manner are called social machines. They are part of the Industry 4.0 vision. The underlying idea is that machines are able to share their knowledge like in social networks – information about themselves as well as experiences and “lessons learned” from their processes. At the same time, social machines coordinate the information received and learn from the network too. Similar to Facebook users, they independently obtain information from the Internet and connected social machine networks. Through swarm experience, they are aware of the best parameters for machining a particular material, for example, and they exchange them with “befriended” machines.


_General requirements for reliable interaction. In the course of any technical evolution, different solutions, formats and approaches usually compete with one another – developed and propagated by various factions, committees or companies. Only standardization, with its exact and binding definition of framework parameters and the possible interfaces, makes it possible to create appropriate expansions, counterparts and communication bridges to a new technology. Of particular importance in this context with regard to the implementation of Industry 4.0 are the new definitions of safety in the area of human-machine collaboration and the standardization of interoperability in the area of data exchange. KUKA is striving for OPC UA to be established as one of the future standards. This protocol not only transports machine data, parameters, process values and measured data, but can also, in combination with other standards, define them semantically in a way that is machine-readable.


_The basis of all constructive cooperation. Standards are the elementary basis for breaking down barriers in the globalized world of Industry 4.0. As a world leader in automation, KUKA sees itself as responsible for playing a key role in shaping the areas of standards and standardization. To this end, KUKA is driving forward the harmonization of communications, data exchange and safety, for example, in the field of direct human-machine collaboration. In this way, it is creating new standards to ensure interoperability in the smart factory of tomorrow. As one of the key players in the paradigm shift from the third industrial revolution to the fourth, KUKA is thus laying the foundation for successful cooperation between all those involved.


_Keeping track. Traceability here refers to the ability to fully trace all raw materials, producers, upstream suppliers, individual parts or assemblies as well as the complete product and its consumers in the digital value chain. It is possible at all times to determine when, where and by whom the goods were produced, processed, stored, transported, used or disposed of. Irrespective of whether an individual part or a finished product is concerned, a distinction is made between two directions of traceability: from the manufacturer to the consumer and from the consumer to the manufacturer.

Value Data

_From worthless data to valuable information. Individual data is like isolated objects in a void. They only make sense in context, and meaningful data can yield information that increases in value through being made exploitable for various purposes. Without being assigned, processed, compared, etc., data about the actual states of different parameters of a machine are nothing but loosely connected numbers. Intelligent evaluation of these data can provide valuable assets, for example by using forecasts that minimize or prevent maintenance and downtime.

Vendor Cloud

_Cloud with limited access. Large manufacturers with extensive supply networks avoid amalgamating different production data in the cloud, as they are concerned that this could reveal information about the production processes. But since the various suppliers and partners need important information from the production process, the manufacturers implement their own production cloud on the Internet or on their premises. In this vendor cloud, the production company can give suppliers access to exactly the data and information that are relevant to them, while all the rest remains hidden. KUKA can develop, implement and operate such cloud solutions for OEMs. KUKA is the ideal partner for operating vendor clouds thanks to its many years of experience with similar projects (including infrastructure work and coordination with suppliers and customers).

Vertical Integration

_Internal networking optimizes the production landscape. Networking the various assets within a company into an efficient production unit is one of the prerequisites for creating a smart factory. The different manufacturing stages with their respective specific assets can thus be merged into an integrated production process, for example. The networking of individual levels and assets via a cloud enables company-wide horizontal integration of the value chain as described in the Industry 4.0 concept. For example, it allows integration into the KUKA ecosystem with all the resulting benefits (see Manufacturing Ecosystem).