Germany is Europe’s largest national economy and ranks fourth as the largest economy by nominal GDP in the world. It is now looking to consolidate its leading position by adopting future technologies

Germany – and the rest of the DACH region that includes Austria and Switzerland – is a key location for the manufacturing industry and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s initiative for Industry 4.0, where manufacturing and connectivity go hand-in- hand, is gaining momentum. The number of Industry 4.0 deals in the DACH region in 2018 was more than 600, up from 513 in 2017.

Industry 4.0 has become an integral part of business for manufacturing and technology players. Companies including Bosch and Siemens are leveraging the benefits of Industry 4.0 to bolster the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.

With AI, industry players can optimise the use of connected systems and pursue breakthrough innovation, while machine learning allows for large amounts of data to be used in making predictions and optimising manufacturing processes.

At the end of 2018, the German government adopted its Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the main goal of which is to make Germany and Europe leaders in the development and use of AI technologies. The government plans to invest around €3bn for this purpose.

Peter Baumgartner, an advisor at Hampleton Partners, says: “Companies in the region are transforming their businesses by buying, funding or partnering with experts in these fields to ensure they are well- positioned for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0.”

Siemens takes lead role in European patent applications
German industrial giant Siemens submitted more patent applications than any other company in Europe in 2018, advancing to first place in the European Patent Office’s application rankings. With 2,493 patent applications, Siemens relegated last year’s leader, Huawei, to second place, followed by Samsung and LG. In 2017, Siemens had taken second place. The last time the company was ranked number one in Europe was in 2011.

More than 25% of the patents were in the areas of Industry 4.0 and digitalisation, where Siemens submitted considerably more applications for intellectual property rights than in the previous year. The company also reported a substantial increase in the areas of artificial intelligence and cyber security.

“The ranking proves that Siemens is continually and consistently delivering outstanding innovation work, in particular, in digital technologies,” head of the IP department at Siemens Beat Weibel says.

Siemens holds a total of more than 65,000 patents. The company submitted around 3,900 patent applications and 7,300 invention disclosure reports worldwide in fiscal 2018. Based on 220 workdays a year, this represented an average of 33 inventions per day.

Miele targets long-term growth
German family-owned appliance manufacturer Miele has an enviable position in the market. The company is able to execute long-term visions, without having to satisfy the demands of shareholders.

In its 2018/19 financial year, which ended on June 30, 2019, Miele grew sales by 1.5% to €4.16bn. In its 120th year of existence, Miele successfully staged the biggest product launch in its history, thereby improving the basis for future growth. The company’s employment figures in Germany, in that period, stood at 20,221, while investments of €256m were made during the financial year.

While current economic risks continue to persist and fundamental changes have been wrought in the competitive landscape, Miele has set itself the target of achieving stronger growth in the current 2019/20 fiscal year and beyond.

> Siemens HALL 2.1 / STAND 101
> Miele HALL 1.1 / STAND 101

Photo: The Miele Group executive board: Dr Stefan Breit (left – Technology), Dr Reinhard Zinkann (Executive Director and Co-Proprietor), Olaf Bartsch (Finance and Administration), Dr Markus Miele (Executive Director and Co-Proprietor) and Dr Axel Kniehl (Marketing and Sales)