Beyond the hype: what is at stake in the digital manufacturing revolution

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2017)


advanced manufacturing, Automotive sector, factories of future, Industrie 4.0


The presentation aims at deconstructing the current hype surrounding the phenomenon "industrie 4.0" and the connected concepts of "factories of future", "industrie du futur" or "advanced manufacturing". It develops a genealogy of both the concepts and the main public policy plans that support their deployment. It focuses in particular on the German, US and French cases. Three main findings will be discussed:
1) The concept of "Industrie 4.0" and its related international clones recycle the main managerial fashions of the 1990s and 2000s and should literally understood as marketing tools to promote and sell new manufacturing technologies to States and firms;
2) What is at stake is the definition of international technological standards in the emerging sub-sector of "digital factories", in particular in the field of the internet of things;
3) For the time being, the automotive sector should and is in fact little concerned by the "digital revolution" as far as the technologies involved entail important costs (direct and transaction) and have no impact on cost structure and flexibility of mass production of cars.

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