Goal of the study

The fourth industrial revolution is changing manufacturing companies forever. However, disruptive changes in industry 4.0 have so far been discussed mainly in relation to production and logistics. Although the cornerstones for the holistic implementation of industry 4.0 in research and development are defined, a detailed consideration of the implications for this central part of the value-added chain is still missing. The importance of creative processes in indirect areas such as product development with increasingly autonomous systems in production is also increasing. Companies that align their development strategy early in the context of industry 4.0 can gain sustainable competitive advantages.

Targeting at a comprehensive exploration of this topic, an international benchmarking study is being conducted by the Complexity Management Academy and RWTH Aachen University (WZL) in cooperation with an industrial consortium consisting of 7 manufacturing companies.

The focus of the consortium benchmarking was on the investigation of successful concepts which companies use to set up their product development for the challenges and opportunities of Industry 4.0. These "Successful Practices" were intended to serve as success stories for the successful integration of the fourth industrial revolution into research and development and were jointly awarded by RWTH Aachen University and the Industry Consortium.

Learn from our excellent successful-practice-companies!


The industry consortium:


The benchmarking study is designed in three phases over 10 months. During the initial Screening phase data is captured in a global context based on the questionnaire. As part of the Evaluation phase, the returns are analyzed while all participants are provided with an individual positioning within the overall study results. In collaboration with our industrial and scientific expert network promising approaches are further analyzed by case studies with the respective participants of the study. According to the overall motto “Learn from the best”, best practices are shared across the successful practice companies and the consortium in the course of five Company Visits.

Scope of the study

To remain competitive in a highly innovative market environment, it is not enough to manufacture products efficiently. The entire product development process must be rethought so that demanding customer requirements can be met with high internal process efficiency.


The matrix of the dimensions product/process and company/customer resulted in the four fields of action in which the successful practices of industry 4.0 in R&D were sought. These fields of action addressed the optimization of products, the generation of additional customer benefits through new business models and product types as well as the reorientation of processes to enable R&D and customer integration.

Optimizing the products

  • Which technologies, skills and competences will be required in future development in order to realize smart products?

Creating new products

  • How can additional customer benefits be generated and new business models be developed by extending products, e.g. by adding data-based services?

Enabling development

  • How do organizational structures and processes in product development have to be adapted in order to face the challenges of industry 4.0?

Integrating the customer

  • How must organizational structures and processes in product development be adapted to meet the challenges of industry 4.0?

Get in touch

Maximilian Kuhn, M.Sc. RWTH
General Manager
Complexity Management Academy GmbH
Campus Boulevard 30
D-52074 Aachen
T +49 241 80 28196
M +49 151 43164208

Email: maximilian.kuhn@complexity-academy.com

Maximilian Kuhn

Maximilian Kuhn