Rapid transfer of theoretical knowledge to profitable industrial applications and services: With this goal, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Fraunhofer Society conduct joint research at the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik, a research factory on KIT’s Campus East. Research is based on close collaboration with industry partners and focuses on digitalization of production and potentials of artificial intelligence. The new development and demonstration center was opened today (March 28, 2022) by the partners in the presence of Baden-Württemberg Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, State Science Minister Theresia Bauer, State Minister of Economic Affairs Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, and about 400 representatives of politics, science, and industry.
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At the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik, KIT’s wbk Institute of Production Science collaborates with the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB and Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT to rapidly transfer production processes to industry. Work ranges from finding-oriented fundamental research to close-to-practice optimization and industrialization through joint research projects to transfer to Baden-Württemberg’s industry.
Minister-President Kretschmann Emphasizes Relevance to Baden-Württemberg’s Economy
“This horrible war in Ukraine shows how quickly requirements to be met by production processes may change. But also beyond these extreme events, companies have to be highly flexible when production quantities vary, when clients prefer a customized version to a standard product, or when it is no longer about building better cars, but having an entirely new mobility experience,” Minister-President Kretschmann says. “To cope with these challenges, companies need a lab in which excellent research meets practice and in which new technologies can be developed and tested to quickly reach market maturity. In three areas that are of high future relevance to our state – electric mobility, lightweight construction, and Industry 4.0 – the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik will be such an excellent lab.”
Transfer and Science Policy
“As a protected space for collaboration of science and industry, the Forschungsfabrik will offer excellent conditions to test new approaches and to directly transfer them to application. The Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik will be a source of ideas and innovations that will not only strengthen Baden-Württemberg as a location of research, but also advance the companies involved. Baden-Württemberg’s visibility on the international level will be enhanced,” says Theresia Bauer, Baden-Württemberg Minister of Science, Research, and the Arts, during a discussion of representatives of science and politics. Work will also be important to the transformation of mobility and digitalization in Baden-Württemberg. “At the Forschungsfabrik, companies and researchers together will work on issues that are of crucial importance to the future competitiveness of our economy. The Factory will strengthen the unique industrial ecosystem in our state and contribute to successfully mastering the challenges associated with transformation. Our goal is that Baden-Württemberg will remain a leading location of innovations and production industry,” says Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, Baden-Württemberg Minister of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Tourism.
Science and Industry: Joining Forces for Success
Professor Holger Hanselka, President of KIT, emphasizes close collaboration of science and industry: “The Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik is a blueprint for mutual success. By close collaboration with industry, the most promising approaches are turned into innovative solutions for companies in the production and machine and plant engineering sectors. Researchers think that digitalization of production and artificial intelligence will be important factors of success. “With the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik for AI-integrated production, Fraunhofer Society and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology decisively contribute to strengthening the lead of German industry. It is here where latest knowledge on AI and machine learning meets classical engineering sciences for close-to-practice research into smart production,” says Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of Fraunhofer Society.
Concrete Goals and Approaches of the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik
“The world in which we are living and working is not stable, but volatile. Agile production concepts capable of change and rapid qualification of processes will ensure value creation in Baden-Württemberg in the long term,” says Professor Jürgen Fleischer, Head of KIT’s wbk Institute of Production Science, in his keynote. Professor Jürgen Beyerer, Director of Fraunhofer IOSB, emphasizes: “With the help of additional instrumentation with sensors and actuators and through machine learning, we will familiarize with processes more rapidly, control them effectively, and speed up their productivity and optimization, although we initially do not understand all impacts and relationships.” Professor Frank Henning, Director of Fraunhofer ICT, adds: “Lightweight construction concepts allow for the efficient use of materials and contribute to reaching climate and sustainability goals in both stationary and mobile applications, such as electric mobility.”
Electric Mobility, Lightweight Construction, and Industry 4.0
During tours of the Factory, the Minister-President, ministers, and the other participants had the opportunity to inform themselves about current projects in the areas of electric mobility, lightweight construction, and Industry 4.0 and about the central challenges faced by companies in the production technology sector, such as shorter product lifecycles, individualized products, and increasing use of new technologies. In the area of electric mobility, research covers highly efficient electric traction motors, high-performance batteries based on variable cell formats, and low-cost production of fuel cells. Research relating to lightweight construction concentrates on additive manufacture, resource-efficient use of materials, and the production of hydrogen tanks. In the area of Industry 4.0, research focuses on the potentials of digital process chains and artificial intelligence as well as on concrete technical solutions, such as the value-stream kinematics concept, which allow to implement these potentials in a real production environment.
Costs of the construction project managed by the planning and construction departments of KIT and Fraunhofer Society will presumably amount to about EUR 17 million (net). For the construction and equipment of KIT’s section, KIT was granted a gross budget in the amount of EUR 9.6 million by the State Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts. For the section of Fraunhofer Society, the federation and state jointly provided a net budget in the amount of EUR 8.5 million. Of these, 3.5 million euros come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), while 2.5 million euros each are borne by the federation and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Tourism. 1.15 million euros for the equipment of the Fraunhofer institutes are funded equally by the federation and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Tourism. The state provided the construction site.
More Information: https://www.karlsruher-forschungsfabrik.de/en.html
Brochure on the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik (in German): https://www.wbk.kit.edu/img/Broschuere_Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik.pdf
Figure: Opening ceremony of the Karlsruher Forschungsfabrik : Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut (State Minister of Economic Affairs, Labor, and Tourism), Professor Jürgen Beyerer (Director of Fraunhofer IOSB), Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann, Professor Jürgen Fleischer (Head of KIT’s wbk Institute of Production Science), Professor Holger Hanselka (President of KIT), Theresia Bauer (State Minister of Science, Research, and the Arts), Professor Frank Henning (Director of Fraunhofer ICT), Dr. Frank Mentrup (Lord Mayor of the City of Karlsruhe), and Dr. Raoul Klingler (Director Research of Fraunhofer Society). (From left to right; photo: Markus Breig, KIT)
Contacts for This Press Release:
Ulrich Pontes, Head of Communications, Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploitation IOSB, mobile: +49 173 6405806, email: ulrich pontes∂ iosb fraunhofer de
Dr. Stefan Tröster, Press Officer, Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology ICT, phone: +49 7214640-392, email: stefan troester∂ ict fraunhofer de
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