Industrie 4.0 – glossary

Industrie 4.0 – glossary

Many technical terms are used in the world of Industrie 4.0. The main terms are explained here.

Industrie 4.0 terms easily explained

Various technical terms are used when discussing Industrie 4.0 and the Internet of Things, and when dealing with these complex topics it is important to understand what they mean. A brief and simple explanation of frequently used terms is provided below.

Model for computer-aided linking of virtual and real data. The user is provided with additional information, such as planning data, that can be compared with the real product.

Combination of elements of a model based on principles and rules for the purpose of its construction, development, and utilization.

An Industrie 4.0 component is a device capable of communication which can be uniquely identified worldwide and consists of an administration shell and the physical item (asset).

Automation Markup Language is an XML-based format for data exchange. AutomationML™ is an open standard that is available free of charge. It offers many options for achieving consistency with respect to the programming, operation, and data exchange of digital tools.

Large volumes of data, such as customer data, machine data, energy data, etc. For the intelligent evaluation of this data, user-oriented services, such as the creation of individual customer profiles or permanent optimization of production processes and predictive maintenance are required. New business models can be created on this basis.

System made up of intelligent information technology (virtual) components and mechanical and electronic (physical) components that communicate via a data infrastructure (e.g., the Internet). The real and virtual worlds are brought together here.

Cyber physical system which is used in production.

Demarcated scope of functionality which is offered by an entity or organization via interfaces.

The use of digital technologies and techniques is bringing about major changes in everyday life, the economy, and society as a whole. This term often gets used when companies embrace digital technologies and organizational and economic conditions change, or innovative products and services emerge. A distinction is made between performance, the range of services offered, and customer interaction.

Analog values are converted into digital formats, and communicated and processed digitally.

This term is often used when the changes associated with digital transformation occur suddenly. While an innovation contributes to the further development of the market, a disruptive innovation refers to the complete restructuring or even termination of existing business models.

Industry-wide product data standard for the classification and unique description of products and services. As of Release 10.0, eCl@ss is not only suitable for applications in procurement, controlling, and sales, it can also be used for company-wide process data management and engineering.

Uniquely identifiable item which is managed on account of its importance in the information world.

Application or a group of communicating application software systems or IT systems that are used to support resource planning throughout the entire company.

Network of things (objects, machines, and systems) and people if applicable. In this network, each component knows its place, its function, and its needs. When communicating with other components, the component makes its function available and collects what it needs and vice versa. The aim is to deal with tasks autonomously.

Internet of Things in relation to industrial applications.

Ideas, algorithms, models, and the totality of representations of real objects and people in a virtual environment.

When considering the lifecycle of an Industrie 4.0 component, a distinction is made between the type and instance.

Series products are manufactured based on the type. Every product that is produced then represents an instance of this type and is assigned a unique attribute, e.g., serial number. For the customer, the products are initially just types. They become instances when they are integrated into an actual system.

Name of the German Federal Government's future project. Industrie 4.0 presents solutions for optimizing complex production processes with new technologies. Industrial production and IT are growing ever closer.  The overarching objective is to secure and strengthen Germany's top-ranking position internationally in the manufacturing industry.

The Industrie 4.0 component is a model which describes the properties of cyber physical systems in more detail. Hardware and software components in production are Industrie 4.0-capable if they meet these requirements. They can be production systems, machines or control cabinet components.

Throughout their entire lifecycle from development to disposal, Industrie 4.0 components collect all relevant data in an electronic, protected container: the administration shell. This data is available to all the companies involved in the value added process.

Together with RAMI 4.0, the Industrie 4.0 component serves as the basis for the development of future products and business models as part of Industrie 4.0.

System, consisting of Industrie 4.0 components and modules with lower communication and identification capability, which serves a specific purpose, has defined properties, and supports standardized services and states.

Learning systems which do not just perform predetermined algorithms. The deep learning method used in computer systems is intended to teach them to recognize patterns in information. The computer classifies these and independently decides what significance this data has in the respective context.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, large volumes of data, e.g., from the Internet of Things, can be evaluated in a meaningful way.

Conclusive, sufficiently detailed abstraction of aspects in an area of application.

The OPC Unified Architecture (UA) published in 2008 is a platform-independent, service-oriented architecture that integrates all the functions of the individual OPC Classic specifications into an extendable framework. OPC UA is an industrial communication protocol for data transmission between machines. It enables machine data, such as controlled variables or measured values, to be transported and described in a machine-readable format.

The openAAS project is intended to bridge the gap between the conceptual work of the ZVEI on architectural models (RAMI 4.0, Industrie 4.0 component) and the practical implementation of Industrie 4.0 in the development departments of companies.

RAMI 4.0 combines all the key elements of Industrie 4.0 in a three-dimensional layer model, in which products or systems can be classified. It enables step-by-step migration from the present into the world of Industrie 4.0.

Using the three axes, “Hierarchy Levels”, “Lifecycle & Value Stream”, and “Layers”, a 3D map is created for Industrie 4.0 solutions.

Together with the Industrie 4.0 component, RAMI 4.0 serves as the basis for the development of future products and business models as part of Industrie 4.0.

Model for a description of the architecture which is used generally and is recognized as appropriate. The elements of a model are combined based on principles and rules.

Model which is used generally and is recognized as appropriate (with the character of a recommendation) in order to derive specific models.

This describes an efficient and adaptable production system which achieves optimum value creation at every stage. The self-organizing value added systems can be optimized according to various criteria, such as costs, availability or the use of resources.

When considering the lifecycle of an Industrie 4.0 component, a distinction is made between the type and instance.

The initial idea for a product, machine or system results in the type. This is then approved for series production once all the development steps have been completed.

Virtual digital and active representation of an Industrie 4.0 component in the Industrie 4.0 system. All the relevant data of a hardware or software component creates a virtual image, which is stored in the administration shell.

Constant change in the production world is nothing new; after all, the first three industrial revolutions gave us the steam engine, mass production based on the division of labor, and automation through control technology. What we are now witnessing is the fourth industrial revolution. The IT and production worlds are merging to create value added systems.

The user is fully immersed in a virtual 360° world, usually with the aid of VR glasses. Unlike AR (augmented reality), the user no longer perceives the real-life environment.


  • “Plattform Industrie 4.0”,, July 17, 2017
  • “<AutomationML/>”,, July 17, 2017
  • “Begriffe”,, July 17, 2017
  • “eCl@ss”,, July 17, 2017
  • “The Reference Architectural Model RAMI 4.0 and the Industrie 4.0 Component”,, July 17, 2017
  • “Unified Architecture”,, July 17, 2017
  • “openAAS”,, September 26, 2016
  • “Lexikon”,, July 17, 2017


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