4. Current associations and working groups shaping the digitization of the process industry

4. 1. Industrial Associations

4.1.1. NAMUR User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries

NAMUR is an international association of users of automation technology in the process industry with member companies in the process industry with a focus on Germany/Europe. The work of NAMUR is mainly based on fields of work that have been established for specific groups of topics: AF 1 Planning and Construction (project management, quality management, project planning and construction), AF 2 Process and Operation Control Systems (process control and operation control level), AF 3 Field Equipment (measurement technology ("sensor technology") and actuator technology), AF 4 Operation and Maintenance (maintenance, electrical engineering, training and safety of process control equipment).

The recommendations and worksheets prepared by NAMUR explain procedures, offer working tools such as checklists and define requirements for devices and systems. These documents describe the state of the art and often serve as a basis for discussions with manufacturers and influence standardization projects.

The advancement of digitalization is carried out by many working groups (see website). Current comprehensive projects (partly in cooperation with the ZVEI) are

  • Automation of modular systems
    The use of so-called Module Type Packages (MTP) is a solution approach to modularize today's automation systems and thus increase the flexibility of production plants. It contains a manufacturer-neutral, functional description of the automation of process modules for integration into orchestration systems, for example conventional process control systems. The MTP is created in the engineering tool of the module supplier and can be imported into that of the plant manufacturer
  • NAMUR Open Architecture
    The NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) concept offers opportunities for both existing and new plants to efficiently upgrade plants for future innovations. The core idea is to export the data of the previous core automation world through open interfaces such as OPC UA into the system world for monitoring and optimization tasks, while leaving the core automation largely unchanged.
  • Asset Life Cycle Data Model
    In future, this is intended to improve the development, planning, operation and maintenance of process industry plants on the basis of international standards.
  • 5G in the process industry
    NAMUR is currently engaged in an intensive exchange with associations, industrial users, politics and the Federal Network Agency, thus ensuring that the requirements of the process industry are taken into account in the development and implementation of 5G. NAMUR thus supports the future adequate and economic use of 5G technology in the industrial environment and actively shapes the path of digitization in the process industry.

Recently, the American Chemistry Council ("ACC"), representing its Process Automation Users Group ("PAUG"), and NAMUR, the association of users of automation technology in the process industry, signed an agreement to cooperate in the fields of automation and instrumentation technology.

The agreement focuses on the exchange, improvement and further development of processes, strategies, guidelines and standards on the instruments and system technologies used in the process industry. Both organizations - on behalf of their members - pursue coordinated solutions in order to advance technological developments globally.

4.1.2. ZVEI – German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association

The member companies in the ZVEI employ around 90 percent of the electrical industry's employees in Germany. The ZVEI and its member companies are pacemakers of technical progress. Everywhere in focus: digitization. The electrical and electronic industry is pushing ahead with networking, in its own companies, with suppliers, customers and also in the private sphere. As the industry's innovation driver, it is actively shaping digital change in the five lead markets Industry 4.0, Energy, Mobility, Health and Buildings, as well as in the areas of cyber security, Society & Environment and Education & Research.

With more than 330 member companies and a turnover of around 54.7 billion euros (2018) in Germany, the Automation section of the ZVEI is the platform for all companies in automation technology, industrial information and communication technology and related industry-related services.

The topic of digitalization is dealt with in various working groups within the Association for Automation, in some cases on an interdisciplinary basis with NAMUR: (selection)

Modular Automation Working Group, Energy Efficiency through Process Automation Working Group, CE Marking Working Group, Technical Documentation Working Group, Automation Technical Committee, Automation Research Association, Industrial Communication Steering Committee, Automation Security Steering Committee, System Aspects Working Group, Manufacturing Execution Systems Working Group, Security Systems in Automation Technical Committee, or the 5G-ACIA Working Group

4.1.3. VDMA - Mechanical Engineering Industry Association

The VDMA has published several brochures and information leaflets on the subject of digitization, which are also of interest to companies in the process industry. Examples are:

New VDMA guideline Self-learning production processes: Machine Learning step by step, September 2019 The new VDMA guideline provides support on the subject of machine learning and shows step by step how the introduction can be carried out in your own company.

New VDMA guideline "Interoperability through standardised features", August 2019 The guideline "Interoperability through standardised features" describes how signals and values are exchanged between production units and thus follows the Industry 4.0 idea. The key word is "standardization". Products, individual parts Assemblies or plant elements are described by characteristics that are transmitted in a format.

VDMA guideline "Industry 4.0 meets Lean" in German and English. The merging of Industry 4.0 with Lean Management offers great potential for the successful development of companies. The VDMA guideline is intended to support companies in this.

Industry 4.0 concrete - new edition 2019, Industry 4.0 has reached the breadth of companies. The publication shows current solutions from industrial practice and provides an overview of VDMA activities related to the topic.

It is a good information platform and offers numerous suggestions and opportunities for cooperation also for companies in the process industry.

4.2. Scientific working groups

4.2.1. ProcessNet Section (DECHEMA and VDI)

The nine sections form the superordinate structure of ProcessNet.

  • Chemical Reaction Engineering
  • Fluid dynamics and separation technology
  • Particle technology and product design
  • Process, apparatus and plant engineering
  • Plant and process safety
  • Sustainable Production, Energy and Resources
  • Materials, construction, service life
  • Education and innovation
  • GeCatS - German Catalysis Society

The relevant specialist groups, working committees and temporary working groups are assigned to the professional associations. The aim of the sections is the comprehensive exchange in the respective assigned committees as well as the development and representation of research policy statements for the superordinate subject areas.

The coordination of the activities of the sections is carried out by a steering committee, which involves the chairmen of the assigned committees.

4.2.2. DFG and the National Research Data Infrastructure NFDI

Since spring 2019, the German Research Foundation has been funding the establishment of subject-oriented data infrastructures. For this purpose, about 30 consortia submitted a concept on 4 July 2019.


No consortium has yet been established in the process technology sector. DECHEMA is the coordinator of the NFDI4cat consortium, which deals with catalysis, reaction engineering and also related process technology. Other consortia with close links to process technology and technical chemistry are NFDI4 are NFDI4chem (chemistry), FAIRmat (materials science), NFDI4ing (engineering with a focus on production technology) and NFDI4mse (mse stands for Material Science & Engineering). In October 2019, a full proposal is to be submitted for funding of further activities.

Next page


  1. Introduction
  2. The concept of digitalisation in the process industry
  3. Accompanying the digitalisation of the process industry and designing potential infrastructural R&D focal points
  4. Current associations and working groups shaping the digitization of the process industry
  5. Important events to shape the digitalization of the process industry
  6. References



Become a member