Advanced Manufacturing Implementations Transforming Production Systems: Insights from an Interdisciplinary Young Scholars Research Group Focusing on the German Textile Industry

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Daniel KERPEN, Institute of Sociology at RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Jacqueline LEMM, Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) at RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Mario LOHRER, Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) at RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Currently, one hot topic among industry practitioners and engineering academics is Industrie 4.0/industry 4.0. This predominantly German-coined term and its corresponding engineering science and innovation policy debate is comparable to global scale ideas like industrial internet or advanced/smart manufacturing. Basic assumptions are:
  1. blending of physical and virtual environments by Cyber-Physical Production Systems (CPPS) integrating computational, physical, and social processes in human/nonhuman interaction networks, and
  2. integrating such CPPS in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Regarding the vast range of possible applications, some scholars praise IoT and CPS for having “the potential to dwarf the 20th century IT revolution”. Such recent developments have futhermore spurred interest in the social sciences, referring to questions (to name but few) of individual and organizational adaptation of such production systems, ethical, legal, and (macro-)social impacts (ELSI) like educational and socio-economic aspects. Therefore, such emerging production technologies pose challenges relevant for discussion at the ISA Forum, because, as the constructive technology assessment (CTA) approach puts it, of their uncertainties combined with promises.

Our contribution draws on insights of the so-called SozioTex interdisciplinary young scholars research group (prae- and post-doc level). We outline key technical, social, ethical, legal and educational aspects derived by such advanced production systems. In this context, we focus on stakeholders’ expectations (shop floor personnel, business/technology managers, as well as other governmental and societal actors), e.g. questions of strategic and operative objectives in introducing such systems, as well as their constellations/relations and resulting potential conflicts. Finally, we discuss methodological as well as theoretical issues arising from such an explicit interdisciplinary approach aiming at feedback from session participants which will stimulate our proceeding work in a twofold manner: i) considering our stated project goals as well as ii) our processes of doing everyday research in an interdisciplinary research effort.