Working on future production systems

The production systems of tomorrow are in development at SmartFactoryKL. For this reason, we are often called “factory innovators.” Specialists from the Department of Machine Tools and Controls (WSKL) at RPTU Kaiserslautern, the Innovative Factory Systems research unit at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, and the SmartFactoryKL work side by side with industry experts from our member companies.

The aim is ensure that the Production Level 4 vision becomes a reality.

About us

SmartFactoryKL is a non-profit organization. The official name, Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL, is often abbreviated as SmartFactory-KL or SF-KL. The organization was established in 2005 and currently (as of September 2023) has around 40 members. The association celebrated its 15-year anniversary in 2020. This Industrie 4.0 association is a unique network of member companies and research institutes that form joint working groups to discover, discuss, and resolve cross-company practical issues in manufacturing.

Our partners implement practical applications of scientific findings within our (Shared Production) demonstrator ecosystem.

Our manufacturer-independent demonstration and research platform is unique in the world and enables the development and testing of innovative production technologies in a realistic industrial production environment. Our demonstrator-ecosystem plays a major role as a testbed in the European Gaia-X sub-project smartMA-X. The same applies to the TWIN4TRUCKS development project where our testbed is being used to develop a Digital Foundation Layer.

The Production Level 4 (PL4) concept serves as the guideline for our Shared Production setup. PL4 is the result of our 2019 analysis and update of the Industrie 4.0 concept and takes into account the latest technological developments as well as the lessons learned in previous years.

Our Milestones
Giant steps from concepts to applications

Launch of the Transfer4Production project, in which scientists working at SmartFactoryKL (SF-KL) assist small and medium sized companies to implement Industrie 4.0 systems.

SF-KL reached an exceptionally large audience at the Hannover Messe. Guided tours were organized for the first time, to include some by the research staff of SF-KL. The SF-KL research tour was the most popular. These themed tours highlighted various hot topics in the production of tomorrow. In addition, 5 lectures were presented on the Industrie 4.0 Conference Stage with several more being presented at our exhibit stand. Among the other highlights were the panel discussion with Professors Wahlster, Kagermann, and Ruskowski centered on the history of Industrie 4.0, and another talk about Manufacturing-X.


The Shared Production setup in Kaiserslautern is implemented with four production stations: _KUBA, _JAVA, _MILOS & _CAPRI. The_JAVA & _CAPRI stations exist in the SF Lab, _KUBA is located in the DFKI Lab, and _MILOS can be found in the WSKL Lab on the RPTU Kaiserslautern campus. Together, they perform distributed roles in the production of a model-truck.

Our hybrid exhibit at Hannover Messe was a complete success in demonstrating a Shared Production system. We set up the production station _KUBA on site with a live link to the production station _MILOS in Kaiserslautern.

The TWIN4TRUCKS project kicked-off with SmartFactoryKL and DFKI as the technology managers on 9/1/2022. The consortium's lead manager is Daimler Truck, where the goal is to optimize commercial vehicle production using a Digital Foundation Layer at the plant in Wörth, Germany.

Our internal SF-KL Innovation Day was very well received by the public in October.

The Gaia-X sub-project smartMA-X begins in Kaiserslautern. This represents the first step in the Shared Production network and involves TU Kaiserslautern (WSKL), DFKI (IFS) andSmartFactoryKL. The Production Level 4 – ecosystem was presented to the public for the first time in September.The name of the Mittelstand 4.0 (SME 4.0) Competence Center was changed to Mittelstand (SME) Digital Center. SmartFactoryKL continues to serve as the consortium manager.

We presented the world's first Production Level 4 – Demonstrator. It introduced certified interchangeable modules (Plug & Produce) and a Gaia-X connection.

The factory innovators at SmartFactoryKL, TU Kaiserslautern (WSKL) and DFKI (IFS) performed a dedailes analysis of Industrie 4.0 that produced an update called Production Level 4. The update places people more clearly at the center of a production and incorporates new AI methods.
SmartFactoryKL was named consortium manager for the Mittelstand 4.0-Kompetenzzentrum Kaiserslautern (SME 4.0 Competence Center Kaiserslautern). The Center is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy (BMWi) and supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the German federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland in the areas of digitalization and Industrie 4.0.
Individually configured products that are cost-effective and readily available. This calls for a flexible and efficient approach to manufacturing. One way to meet these challenges is provided by “SkalA,” a demonstration unit that offers a scalable automation process. Foundation is the fully decentralized controlled manufacturing process, made possible by cyber-physical systems (CPS).
SmartFactoryKL and 10 industrial partners present the world’s first manufacturer-independet Industrie 4.0 production plant at Hannover Messe.
For the first time, SmartFactoryKL presents a demonstrator with a connected CPS control. The completely modular key finder production line, which showcases many relevant elements of the fourth industrial revolution, is presented at Hannover Messe.
2012 Award
SmartFactoryKL wins the „Audi Production Award 2012“ award
Within the scope of the Top Cluster Competition of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, SmartFactoryKL is named one of three living labs at the center of the development and evaluation of emerging software for the process and manufacturing industry.
SmartFactoryKL holds the 1st Innovation Day “Industry meet Academia”, which takes place annually from then on. The event sparks great interest among guests from the fields of politics, business, science, research and the media.
2009 Award
SmartFactoryKL wins the „Innovationspreis T-Mobile 2009“ award
The first demonstration plant goes into operation. The so-called soap plant, which fills customized soap into bottles, gives a first taste of what an intelligent factory can look like in practice on a small scale.In 2012, the demonstrator of SmartFactoryKL is presented as the central exhibition piece at the Industrial IT Forum at Hannover Messe.
2007 Award
SmartFactoryKL wins the „Land der Ideen“ award

Thanks to the initiative of Prof. Dr. Detlef Zühlke, the Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL e. V. is founded by 7 partners from research and industry on June 10, 2005. The partners elect Prof. Zühlke Chairman of the Board.

Founding partners: DFKI, BASF, KSB, Pepperl+Fuchs, ProMinent, Siemens, TU Kaiserslautern

Executive Board
Experts from research and business communities
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Ruskowski
Chairman of the Executive Board of Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. (since 2019)
Eric Brabänder

Member of the Executive Board of Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. . (since 2022)

Chief Product Officer & Member of the Management at Empolis Information GmbH

Andreas Huhmann
Member of the Executive Board of Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. (since 2011)

Strategy Consultant Connectivity and Networks at Harting

Dr.-Ing. Detlev Richter

Member of the Executive Board of Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. (since 2023)

Vice President
Global Head of Industrial and Energy Products bei TÜV SÜD

Scroll to Top