21 February 2022

SmartFactoryEU and DTP meeting

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Zuehlke, founder and former CEO of SmartFactory Kaiserslautern formed and leads the new European Association SmartFactoryEU. DTP met Prof. Zühlke in Kaiserslautern to discuss the newest developments in smart production.

As a pioneer of smart production, SmartFactory Kaiserslautern coined the term Industry 4.0 and carried it into the world. The naming of the European umbrella organization and its establishment in Kaiserslautern underline the pioneering role of SmartFactory-KL. Today, not only is production set up in a big network, but research and development are as well.

Zuehlke pointed out that SmartFactory-KL kicked-off a trend 15 years ago. In the past few years, comparable centers have been established in Europe, each of which has been driving its developments forward on a national level. “However, the world of production is a big global network. Europe will only be able to stand strong against Asia and America in this economically important field if activities in Europe are also connected in a stronger network. This is the task that the new SmartFactoryEU umbrella association strives to accomplish,” said Zuehlke, Managing Director of the new association.

The founding members of the umbrella association are Flanders Make (Belgium), Brainport Industries (the Netherlands) and SmartFactory-KL (Germany). The task of the new association is to establish a European network of operators of R&D centers for smart production technologies and to initiate joint research projects. For example, the initiative has already held initial talks with the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology to accompany the GAIA-X project at European level, which aims to develop secure data exchange on an open European data platform with standardized services. The numerous activities in Kaiserslautern will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises, which will have access to the latest developments in smart technologies through SmartFactory.


SmartFactoryEU was founded in 2019 and sees itself as an umbrella organization of the national R&D centers around smart manufacturing and industry 4.0 in Europe. The organization, which is currently being set up, has set itself the goal of establishing a Europe-wide network of these centers and coordinating joint activities such as research projects. Managing director is Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Zuehlke. SmartFactoryEU has the legal form of a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG).


The founding member have defined the following aims and values for the organization. Goal is to strengthen the European ecosystem and to become the frontrunner in manufacturing:

– Connecting manufacturing and digital transformation research and demonstration centres

– Being their common voice towards the EU

– Sharing and promoting a common vision and roadmap to enable and speed up “Industry 4.0 adoption”

– Serving as a reference for the future of sustainable, inclusive and climate neutral manufacturing

– Supporting the creation of digital talents



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