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This article concludes my short history of 28 years of sendler\circle. The end of the circle also marks the beginning of a new development in the industry, which is focusing on apps and cloud technology. also in this application area.

In 2011, the German government’s Research Union made the term Industry 4.0 public. One year later, it published the implementation recommendations for Industry 4.0 to support industry on its way to the Internet of Things (IoT). The fourth industrial revolution was proclaimed, but it did not yet exist.

Industry as a whole was a long way from the cloud and the internet, and its digitalization consisted almost exclusively of using the standard software whose manufacturers and providers were represented in the sendlercircle. But the Industry 4.0 initiative also marked a new upheaval in this circle.

In previous years, we had already been dealing with more and more new topics. Mechatronics had replaced mechanics. Software was the latest development technology to find its way into product innovation via the research and development departments. Products such as cars, white goods and more became software-controlled systems. Gradually, the first companies also began to connect their products to the Internet.

In engineering departments and among users of industrial software systems in general, a search for new methods and tools began that is still ongoing today. Interdisciplinary product development, systems engineering and model-based systems engineering (MBSE) were not just buzzwords, they became the core of industrial product development. Where products no longer stand on their own, but have to act and function as systems within systems, the old, tried and tested mechanical means and methods are hopelessly out of their depth.

Feldafing Industry Summit – System Leadership 2030

In 2013, I organized the “Feldafing Industry Summit – System Leadership 2030” with the support of Siemens at their Global Leadership Center in Feldafing on Lake Starnberg. The members of the sendler\circle were the nucleus of participants and sponsors, but not the driving force. The focus was no longer on the applications of standard software, but on Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things.

The 13 sponsors included accenture as well as Bentley Systems, Hannover Messe as well as HP, IBM and SAP. On the panel, I moderated a discussion at the beginning and at the end with Professors Martin Eigner, Manfred Broy and Holger Borcherding (Lenze) together with Anton S. Huber, who had laid the foundation for today’s Siemens Digital Industries Software with the purchase of Unigraphics Solutions at Siemens a few years earlier. In between, the event offered two days of moderated discussion rounds, none with more than 10 participants.

The proceedings of the Feldafing Industry Summit were the first book on Industry 4.0

The proceedings of the Industry Summit were the first book ever to be published under the title Industry 4.0.

Its translation into Chinese made it a bestseller in China in 2015, when Xi Jin Ping proclaimed “Made in China 2025” and explained that the guiding principle was the German Industry 4.0 initiative. As a result, I was invited from China to give lectures in a total of 10 Chinese cities until the start of the pandemic.

At sendlercircle, Industry 4.0 – as in the industry as a whole – became an ongoing topic that worked in the background. Everyone knew it was important and worthy of support.

The Industry 4.0 platform was founded and associations, research, industry and politics drove forward the standardization of industrial networking and data usage.

But it was not a topic that led IT providers to develop new software systems on a large scale. Rather, this happened in connection with the underlying systems engineering.

From PLM to SysLM?

In 2012, I myself formulated the idea that PLM could become SysLM when the industry as a whole moves towards the development of networked systems. Then they would actually have to be offered data management of the system data that also works over the entire life cycle. In other words, systems lifecycle management.

Whereby it would be even more important to cover the system usage phase, as the data of the systems only unfolds its special effect during use and product value creation is by no means completed with the sale of a product.


Even though a few researchers and developers took up this idea, it did not prove to be effective. It was more important for software providers to devote themselves to the modeling of software-controlled systems, i.e. model-based systems engineering (MBSE). Today, there are a number of tools for this that are preferred by universities and some companies. However, a comprehensive SysLM has not developed.

Instead, the importance of application lifecycle management (ALM) grew alongside PLM as software development increased. However, as in previous decades, providers and users have not been able to bridge the gap between the application areas that is so typical of monolithic systems. The data management systems for PLM and ALM are still just as separate as the specialist departments of mechanical engineering and software development.

Even the Internet of Things, which already had a whole decade behind it when Industry 4.0 was proclaimed, was only given very moderate momentum by the new initiative. The major problem that arose was not the management of data. It was the difficulty of finding and developing new business models that actually allowed data to be used as the new oil of the manufacturing industry. This is why IT providers’ attempts to score points with new tools to support the development of IoT products were not very successful.

From today’s perspective, I have to say that it was probably less due to a lack of interest from the industry than to the approaches. The sendler\circle was originally created as a roundtable for CAD software providers, and later for PDM and PLM manufacturers. It was not a circle for the industry itself. All of the approaches discussed in the circle always revolved primarily around the question of how IT providers could improve their business with industry.

The triumph of container software also in the industry

At the same time, however, the development of smartphones and cloud technology had established a new type of software development in IT that would render most of the previously developed systems obsolete in the long term. Apps instead of large, proprietary and monolithic systems quickly became established in the consumer world, on cell phones and computers. Google donated its own Kubernetes system for managing app clusters to a foundation in 2013 and made it open software. The software implemented in the industry, on the other hand, increasingly less acted as an important driver of innovation.

The industry had to take a different direction towards its own digitalization. Just as it needs to give its companies modern, agile, flexible and scalable organizational structures, it needs to bring its software development up to the state of the art. And that means container apps based on Linux and Kubernetes. A few years ago, Gartner coined the term “Composable Enterprise” for modern companies. For software, I have based myself on this with the term “Composable Software”.

A year and a half ago, I started a small background series “Composable Software” on this portal.

There is not (yet) much discussion about this, especially not in industry. After all, the most important thing here is always what comes out of development, production and marketing for the company, not which tools and methods were used to achieve this. On the contrary, these methods are precisely the secrets of success that people don’t want to reveal.

But it is a fact that computer scientists and programmers in the industry also prefer this type of easily composable and often open software architecture and its development today and are saying goodbye to the old ways of software engineering. Business leaders who do not support and hinder this will have even greater personnel problems than they already have.

This change in industrial digitalization has been most evident for a few years in the core area of the manufacturing industry, in production itself. Instead of proprietary control systems and monolithic large-scale systems for PPS, MES, MOM and whatever else they are all called, completely new, containerized and open automation platforms are becoming established at an astonishing pace, turning even competitors into partners and allowing customers and third-party providers to develop their own apps. This type of “smart automation” could be the turning point at which the digital transformation that has been expected for over a decade becomes a reality.

There is no circle for this (yet). But there will soon be a page on my news portal called “Smart Automation“, where the important information about this latest development can be found in a central location.

The idea of the sendler\circle as a network and discussion group has worked well for 28 years. Competitors have also benefited from talking to each other about the challenges of the market and bringing in experts from research and other sectors. If there is renewed interest in this type of discussion group, I will be happy to share my experience as a networker and event organizer.