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Seven new innovation projects for the Leading-Edge Cluster it's OWL

16 projects had applied in a call for proposals by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the further development of the Leading-Edge Cluster it's OWL. Seven of these were selected by an independent panel of experts. In those projects, companies and research institutions jointly develop approaches and solutions for the production of the future.

This concerns agile teamwork and value-added networks, intelligent logistics and sensor technology, safety and security, and new approaches to product development. 22 companies and eight research institutes are involved. The projects, which are expected to start in June 2020, have a total volume of 14.4 million euros. The state of NRW plans to support the projects with funds of up to 8.1 million euros.

State Minister for Economic Affairs, Digitization, Innovation and Energy Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart: "In the selected projects, industry and science are jointly developing new technologies for the digital transformation in small and medium-sized enterprises. The partners take up the demand from industry and develop practice-oriented approaches and solutions that other companies in OstWestfalenLippe and the whole of North Rhine-Westphalia can use. In doing so, they make an important contribution to a competitive industry in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gausemeier, Chairman of the it's OWL Cluster Board and of the expert committee, praised the high quality of selected competition entries: "The projects are important building blocks for further implementing the strategy of the it's OWL Leading-Edge Cluster. Companies and research institutions join forces and create new forms of innovation development. This results in basic technologies, solution patterns and methods that we make available to our cluster companies. Small and medium-sized companies can use the results, for example, through transfer projects."

Competence management for agile teams and optimization of value creation networks
The digital transformation is changing the way companies work together and the demands on employees. Teams are increasingly being put together flexibly for current assignments. Under the leadership of the Paderborn University, the 'Predicteams' project is concerned with the development of approaches to optimally staff so-called agile teams and improve their work. For this purpose, competencies for different tasks are identified and a method for analysing competence profiles is developed. A guideline will support companies in the introduction of predictive competence management. Project partners are the TH OWL and the companies BHTC, itelligence, S&N, Weidmüller, Unity and Lödige.

Another challenge for the industry is that the cooperation of companies with partners, suppliers and customers is changing. Customer requirements are increasingly being integrated directly into the development and manufacture of products. In the project 'MOVE' such value-added networks of companies, partners, suppliers and customers are to be analysed and digitally mapped. Pilot projects with companies aim at better forecasting sales, customer demand and delivery times. Project partners are the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design IEM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, Diebold Nixdorf, Hettich, Lytiq, mediaprint solutions, Phoenix Contact and the Bielefeld University.

Intelligent logistics and sensor technology - Safety of machines
Within the project 'IMAGINE', artificial intelligence methods are to be used to optimise logistics in manufacturing companies. This is due to the increasing number of different product variants and the need for minimizing throughput times from order to delivery. In the project, methods are developed with which companies can analyse and optimise their internal logistics. Exemplary applications for the production of household appliances, separators and pumps for buildings will be developed. Project partners are Miele, Fraunhofer IEM, Fraunhofer IOSB-INA, GEA and Wilo (Dortmund).

Due to the increasing complexity and networking of production plants, high demands are placed on their safety. These include, for example, the failure-free operation and safe operation of a machine as well as the protection of the machine against unauthorised access from outside. In the 'AusoS2' project, a procedure is being developed with which companies can examine and improve the safety of their machines and plants. The data required for this is determined automatically and analysed by an algorithm. This is expected to reduce the costs of security evaluation by up to 70 percent. Project partners are Fraunhofer IOSB-INA, TH OWL, Phoenix Contact and TÜV Süd.

In the 'InSensPro' project, Claas and the Bielefeld University want to develop solutions to improve harvest quality and the efficiency of agricultural machinery. By means of an intelligent network of sensors, processes in the machine are to be monitored and interpreted by learning methods. In this way, errors during operation are avoided and the burden on the machine operator is reduced.

Intelligent product development and new business models
The development of products in the industry will also change more and more: Intelligent products and digital services require close cooperation between different disciplines. Systems Engineering interlocks these disciplines in order to view the product and production system as a unit over the entire life cycle. The project 'SE4OWL' is about introducing and consolidating this new development methodology in medium-sized companies. For this purpose, methods and tools are adapted to the needs of small and medium-sized companies. Furthermore, the acceptance and the competences of the employees in the companies are to be improved. Project partners are Fraunhofer IEM, Claas, Harting, Miele, Two Pillars and Unity.

These days, companies will buy services rather than machines. How business models change in industry is being investigated by the Chair for Business-to-Business Marketing at the University of Münster as part of the 'InnoPaaS' project. The trend of 'product as a service' is becoming more and more prevalent in the consumer sector. In industry, however, the change from producer to producing service provider is still new territory. Together with Claas and DMG Mori, exemplary approaches for new business models are to be developed in ten case studies and a guideline for action is to be worked out for medium-sized companies.

Günter Korder, Managing Director it's OWL Clustermanagement GmbH states: "The projects show that it's OWL is an industry-driven network. The companies define the subject areas - and together with the universities and research institutions we develop projects that lead to concrete added value for the companies. And which we then transfer to broad application. That is the recipe for success of it's OWL."