Terminology regarding Industry 4.0 (glossary of the VDI GMA technical committee 7.21 »Industry 4.0«)

The VDI GMA technical committee 7.21 »Industry 4.0«, under the direction of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Epple from the RWTH Aachen, is working on a basis for the understanding of the standard terminologies, reference models and architectural concepts for Industry 4.0.

This is happening on the basis and for further devolpment of the existing standardization in the area.

Within Industry 4.0 the languages of production and information and communication technology (ICT) are growing together. There are however differences and unclarities regarding the terminlogies of Industry 4.0 which have historical reasons. The workgroup »Terminology« under the direction of Mrs. Dr.-Ing. Miriam Schleipen from the Fraunhofer IOSB is working on a common »basis« (terminology) of Industry 4.0 in terms of linguistic and mental contructs. Existing norms and standards of the areas of ICT and production are the base for these constructs.

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CPS Platform

Implementation of a communication and system infrastructure with necessary management and production services and defined QoS (quality of service) characteristics for the efficient construction and integration of CPS for an application domain. 

Cyber-Physical Production System – CPPS

CPS which is used in production.

Cyber-Physical System

In implementation, this means that companies connect their operating resources, machines and logistics systems increasingly online in Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), if required on a global scale. This opens up new possibilities for an intelligent production, in which all objects are steering each other’s by means of the independent exchange of data and information. In this way, industrial processes can be improved fundamentally in engineering, the use of materials and production, supply chain and life cycle management.

System which links real (physical) objects and processes with information-processing (virtual) objects and processes via open, in some cases global, and constantly interconnected information networks. 

Note: A CPS optionally uses services available locally or remotely, has human-machine interfaces, and offers the possibility of dynamic adaptation of the system at runtime.



Loose community of various autonomous players connected in a network with a common goal of creating products and/or services based on a (standardized) communication and system infrastructure.

Note 1: Players can be participants of the value-added system as well as educational or research institutions, political units, standardization organisations or associations.

Note 2: Within an ecosystem, players can be engaged at the same time both in cooperation and in competition.

Note 3: An ecosystem is characterized by a common further development (co-evolution) of the players and the ecosystem.


Horizontal Integration

Integration within a functional/organizational hierarchical level across system boundaries.

Human Machine Interaction

Collaboration between users and technology, such as computers, machines or CPS.

Note 1: Implemented by human- and task-oriented technical systems at the interface between users and technology.

Note 2: Includes the analysis, design and evaluation of such systems.

Note 3: Collaboration synonymous to interaction


I4.0 Component

Globally uniquely identifiable participant with communication capability consisting of administration shell and asset (corresponds to CP24, CP34 or CP44) within an I4.0 system which there offers services with defined QoS (quality of service) characteristics. 

Note 1: For its services and data, the I4.0 component offers protection commensurate with the task. 

Note 2: An I4.0 component can represent a production system, a single machine or station, or even an assembly within a machine.

I4.0 Platform

Implementation of a (standardized) communication and system infrastructure with the necessary management and production services and defined QoS (quality of service) characteristics as a basis for the efficient construction and integration of I4.0 systems in an application domain.

Note 1: To ensure interoperability, an I4.0 platform must be based on a reference architecture.

Note 2: An I4.0 platform must define a relation to the I4.0 system.

I4.0 System

System, consisting of I4.0 components and components of a lower CP classification, which serves a specific purpose, has defined properties, and supports standardized services and states.

Note 1: A system may be present as a component in a further I4.0 system.

Note 2: An I4.0 system must define a relation to the I4.0 platform.


Defined connection point of a functional unit which can be connected to other functional units.

Note 1: “Defined” means that the requirements and the assured properties of this connection point are described.

Note 2: The connection between the interfaces of function units is also called an interface.

Note 3: In an information system, the defined exchange of information takes place at this point.

Note 4: Interface places certain requirements on the connection that is to be made.

Note 5: Interface demands certain features.

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