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Innovation area with international radiance

The High Performance Center „Smart Production“ was launched in Chemnitz on September 8, 2017, and is coordinated by two Fraunhofer institutes and Chemnitz University of Technology

On September 8, 2017, Saxony’s Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich, Fraunhofer President Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, and Chemnitz University President Prof. Gerd Strohmeier together with representatives from science and economy launched the new High Performance Center “Smart Production”. Aim of the center is the fast transfer of developments from university and extramural research into the digital-industrial production. The center is coordinated by Chemnitz University of Technology, the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems and the Fraunhofer Institue for Machine Tools and Forming Technology. The Free State of Saxony and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are the funding bodies.

The center is a new innovation area in Chemnitz, a location of research and science, and is supposed to further strengthen the competitiveness of the region and add international radiance. At the opening ceremony, Saxony’s Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich emphasized the importance of the center within the innovation strategy of the Free State. “The High Performance Center “Smart Production” will continue Saxony’s top-level research and further upgrade Chemnitz as international research location. The existing great competence of Saxony regarding digitalization is also strengthened. Fraunhofer is an integral part of the Saxon innovation system and an important partner especially in the successful fields of mechanical and automotive engineering. The researchers involved will improve the competitiveness of Saxon enterprises and increase prosperity in the State.”

In the future, the center will be the central hub for strategic projects of research and transfer, actively integrating small and medium sized enterprises, as well as sustainably supporting the innovation and knowledge transfer into economy. Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, referred to the significance of High Performance Center beyond the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and justified the new center with the excellent local conditions in Chemnitz: “The High Performance Center will create cross connections and symbiotic relationships between science and industry that were not there before. Thus, it will push Chemnitz, a leading location in production technology, to a new level that will be also more visible internationally.”

Prof. Gerd Strohmeier, President of Chemnitz University, is convinced that the university itself will gain more national and international visibility and contribute more to the digitalization of production, and to the design of Industrie 4.0.

An Example: making production run faster

One of the many projects of the center shows the driver of scientists and industry in the three clusters of “materials”, “technologies”, and “factory”: “For example, we focus on the manufacturing process of tools for forming presses. As this is the first step in the value-added chain, it forms the basis for robust and substantial production”, explains Prof. Welf-Guntram Drossel, spokesperson of the High Performance Center, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IWU, and Chair of the Professorship of Adaptronics and Lightweight Design at Chemnitz University. Before the tools can be used in the manufacturing of car body components, for example, they have to go through a complex initiation process. The blank tool is integrated into a test press and only manufactures test parts. Then the blank tool is reworked with manual grinding machines until good parts result from the press trials. This process causes 62 percent of tool cost and lasts six weeks on average – a long time in which no production can be carried out yet. The use of robots with tactile grinding tools, controlled by algorithms of artificial intelligence, is supposed to drastically shorten the initiation time and to simultaneously reach a new level of productivity in the field of tool manufacturing.

“Responding the challenges of future production”

Prof. Siegfried Fiebig, spokesman of the Volkswagen Sachsen management, said at the event: “In the future, rapidity will be one of the most significant competitive advantages”, with regard to the project and the High Performance Center. “Right now I see a chance for growth impulses for enterprises, in completely new sectors, too.”

In his concluding presentation, Drossel offered an outlook: “The establishing of the center simultaneously represents a profile-forming cluster for the cooperation in the research areas of production, material, and lightweight, as well as digitalization and microelectronics. In terms of “strengthening the strengths” we will respond to challenges of the future production landscape – side by side with actors from research and economy right on site in Chemnitz.”

Matthias Fejes

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