Working today on the manufacturing ot tomorrow

We are working with industry specialists to develop the manufacturing of tomorrow and are called, appropriately, factory innovators. Experts from the Department of Machine Tools and Controls (WSKL) at TU Kaiserslautern, and the (Innovative Factory Systems research unit) at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence work together with us at SmartFactoryKL.
About us
SmartFactoryKL is a non-profit organization with the official name Technology Initiative SmartFactory KL. Established in 2005, the association currently (10/2021) consists of 45 members. In 2020, the association celebrated its 15th anniversary. Our unique Industrie 4.0 network links working groups in which important questions are asked and answered by the participating companies and research institutes. Scientific findings are jointly implemented with our partners as practical solutions in our  demonstrator-ecosystem in Kaiserslautern  (Shared Production).

This worldwide unique, manufacturer-independent demonstrator and research platform enables testing, further development, and deployment of innovative ICT technologies in a realistic industrial production environment. The demonstrator-ecosystem will play an increasingly role as a test environment in the coming years for the European GAIA-X sub-project smartMA-X . The vision of Production Level 4  (PL4) is guiding the development of our Shared Production setup. Our 2019 analysis of the  Industrie 4.0 concept resulted in PL4, which takes the latest technological developments into account along with the lessons learned in previous years.

Our Milestones

Giant steps from concepts to applications 


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) and SmartFactoryKL. 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

Martin Ruskowski_1

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

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Andreas Huhmann

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

Strategy Consultant Connectivity and Networks at Harting

KlausStark1033x852-1024x845 (1)

Klaus Stark

Member of the Executive Board of Technologie-Initiative SmartFactory KL e.V. (since 2017)

Senior Manager Innovation Management at Pilz


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