Industrial production and systems

Current profile

The field of specialization “Industrial production and systems” is a critical component of the Thuringian economy.  With its growing markets and numerous activities across a wide spectrum of industries, this field accounts for almost half of Thuringia’s manufacturing output.  
This means that Thuringia boasts a well-developed entrepreneurial base in production engineering, plastics processing, mechanical engineering and toolmaking, measurement & control technology, micro/nanotechnology, optics/photonics, sensor technology, and robotics, as well as materials & materials systems.  
A particular strength is the bundled scientific expertise provided by seven Thuringian institutions of higher learning and 15 research institutes.  Achieving an ever-closer interlinkage with the Thuringian economy is a top priority that is actually applied in practice, as exemplified by the “Twenty20 consortia” (partnerships for innovation subsidized by funds from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)), 2 “growth cores,” and 3 “growth-core initiatives” (each likeswise subsidized by the BMBF), currently in place.  The following diagram provides an overview of the competences available in this particular field of specialization:

The primary components of total turnover in this field are the manufacture of metal, rubber, and plastic products as well as mechanical engineering.  The Thuringian optical industry has a particularly significant role in this, since it exhibits an extremely high localization coefficient for Thuringia while enjoying an outstanding reputation across the globe for its achievements in the development of modern optics.  The Free State’s glass and ceramics industry is another major employer.  

Key economic data for this field of innovation:

•    Turnover: € 16,550,193,000
•    Number of operations: 3,407
•    Size of the workforce (employees subject to compulsory social insurance contributions): 102,430

Source: based on TLS data (data for 2019) 


Flexible and efficient production technologies will be of great importance when it comes to keeping production operations competitive in the future.  This means that in order to turn out customized products, it is necessary to have the ability to design processes adaptively and to integrate them into corresponding systems.

Another significant competitive factor for manufacturers is the ability to offer essentially error-free production.  Thus, there is an increased demand for processes that integrate sensor and actuator technology to monitor and steer production.  The salient drivers of efficiency in this context are in-line process monitoring and smooth human-machine interaction, whereby the people will have to be properly trained and acclimated to deal with an automated workplace.    

Industry 4.0

The digitalization of production and the networked interlinkage of value-added systems called for by the “Industry 4.0” concept is of critical importance for Thuringia as a region focusing on innovation.  A key premise of the German Federal Government’s High-tech Strategy is that embarking upon a 4th industrial revolution – “Industry 4.0” for short – is an indispensable step towards ensuring Germany’s future competiveness and sustainable growth. In this context, the strategy emphasizes the need to connect the real and digital worlds across company structures by placing increased reliance on the integration of smart information, communications, and management systems on the one hand, while also interlinking the various processes and resources along the entire value-added chain, from the vendor and other intermediary producers to the end customer. 

The ability to react quickly to changes on the market will be decisive in this context.  Thus, the existing Thuringian competences in various technology segments will have to be exploited and continually expanded.

Thanks to the Free State’s innovative enterprises, diversified research and academic institutions, strong R&D capabilities, and numerous networks, Thuringia is well-positioned to successfully navigate the digitally networked future.

The Working Group “Industrial production and systems” is focusing all of its efforts on further enhancing Thuringia’s status as an internationally visible production region with a strong focus on excellence in technology, thereby realizing the vision set forth in the Innovation Strategy.  This vision and these strategic objectives form the starting point for implementing the Thuringian Innovation Strategy.

Vision and strategic objectives

The vision defined by the Innovation Strategy together with its strategic objectives form the basis on which the Working Groups pursue their activities.

Thuringia is an internationally visible production region with a strong focus on excellence in technology, and its success rests on an interdisciplinary approach, a competitive infrastructure, rapid responsiveness to the market, and innovative power:

  • Thuringian enterprises are making the most of the opportunities arising from accelerating technical progress, demographic shifts, dwindling resources, and advancing globalization.  Thus, they are consistently marketing their region’s ability to deliver excellence in order to expand their access to growing markets as well as their reputations and leadership positions in optics/photonics, plastics processing, production engineering, measurement & sensor technology, as well as in the use of innovative materials systems.  The results achieved then serve as a model to emulate in future interdisciplinary efforts.  
  • Thuringian enterprises are turning into systems suppliers and creating innovation through the smart interlinkage of thematic areas such as optics / photonics, automation / robotics, plastics / production / precision technology, lightweight construction, hybrid and innovative materials, micro/nano-integration, sensor technology, as well as information and communication technology.
  • Thuringian Enterprises are enhancing their position on the global market through ongoing internationalization;
  • Targeted efforts are underway to boost the level of system competence of manufacturing enterprises, thereby raising their global competitiveness.
  • Product-development times are being significantly reduced while the responsiveness to markets and customers is being consistently increased.  
  • The special machine construction and toolmaking sectors are striving for technological leadership through smarter, better-performing system solutions and product-supporting services.
  • The creative industry is generating momentum for interdisciplinary joint ventures involving innovation processes and the development of user-oriented products.


[Translate to Englisch:] Kay Sawatzky

Kay Sawatzky

Specialization Industrial production and systems

0361 5603-441
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Michel Reichardt

Specialization industrial production and systems

0361 5603-466
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Alexander Dieser

Specialization Industrial production and systems

Mainzerhofstraße 12
99084 Erfurt

0361 5603-471
0361 5603-328
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