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

13 projects had applied in a call for proposals by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) for the further development of the Leading-Edge Cluster it's OWL. Six of them were selected by an independent panel of experts. In these projects, 17 companies and five research institutions are jointly developing approaches and solutions for the production of the future. These include software development without in-depth programming knowledge, new methods of human-machine interaction, the optimisation of industrial processes and new sensor technologies. The projects, which are expected to start in March 2021, have a total volume of 9.2 million euros. The State of NRW plans to support the projects with funds of up to 4.9 million euro.



Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart sais: "The it's OWL Leading-Edge Cluster is a successful model for effective cooperation between science and industry with great nationwide appeal. In the selected projects, researchers are working together with SMEs to develop new technologies for the digital transformation. The partners take up needs for action from industry and develop practice-oriented approaches and solutions that other companies in the region and throughout 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 the panel of experts, praises the high quality of the selected competition entries: "The projects are important building blocks for further implementing the strategy of the it's OWL excellence cluster. Companies and research institutions are thereby combining their strengths for innovation, value creation and employment. This results in key technologies, solution patterns and methods that we make available to our cluster companies. Small and medium-sized enterprises can use the results, for example, through transfer projects".


Create software applications without deep programming knowledge

Digitalisation and optimisation of processes mean that companies have an increasing need for company-specific software applications. Currently, IT specialists in particular are required to create and adapt these applications. Since there is a shortage of IT specialists in many companies, and IT departments are usually working to full capacity, this approach is cost-intensive and associated with long deployment times. The 'Pro-LowCode' project is working on an alternative. Low-code programming makes it possible to create software applications without in-depth programming knowledge using a graphical user interface. The advantage: employees in companies can directly participate in the software development with their expert knowledge. Among other things, the project aims to demonstrate the possible applications and requirements of low-code platforms in medium-sized industrial companies. Project partners are the OWL University of Applied Sciences, Paderborn University and the companies S&N Invent, Homag Kantentechnik and Denios.


Increase of automation at test stations

How robots can simplify processes in companies is the subject of the 'CogeP' project. In this project, the possible applications of Cobot-supported test stations are being researched. A Cobot is a collaborative robot that works together with humans and is not separated from them by protective devices. In the project, for example, an application for real money testing for ATMs by Diebold Nixdorf is being developed. Using a robot, test procedures with real money are automated. The company hopes that automation will lead to greater efficiency in the areas of development and production. Fraunhofer IEM and verlinked GmbH are working on a solution with Diebold Nixdorf.


Augmented Reality in education

The project 'iAtA' (Intelligent Assistance for Technical Training) is about being able to apply newly acquired knowledge in training directly on a machine tool or during assembly. This is made possible by an extended reality assistance system (XR). XR-based systems support users by allowing real-time information to be displayed in the field of vision of employees and supplemented acoustically. Digital assistance systems have already established themselves in some areas of business, for example in maintenance and repair. Now they are to improve training in companies. This opens up new opportunities to make junior staff fit for digital technologies. To this end, research partners at Bielefeld University and Fraunhofer IOSB-INA are working closely with the industry partners Miele, Böllhoff and Phoenix Contact, as well as the Multi Media Action Centre.


Introduction of Augmented Reality in companies

Augmented Reality (AR) also plays an important role in the 'EMERGE' project. High development costs make it especially difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises to use the potential of these technologies. In the project 'EMERGE - Systematics for the introduction of individual AR solutions', a set of instruments is being created to support the use of AR solutions in companies, for example in the maintenance of machines or during assembly. To this end, applications in the areas of product development, production and sales are being developed, which will be made available to companies in solution modules, guidelines and training courses. This will enable companies to increase the productivity and quality of their manufacturing and support their employees. Project partners are Fraunhofer IEM and the companies Scanblue Engineering, Weidmüller and Westfalexwerk.


Analysis of industrial processes

The project 'BPM-I4.0' deals with Process Mining. Process Mining is a method for recognising, analysing and improving business processes based on data. The approach is already established in certain sectors such as online commerce, but not yet in industrial processes. The reasons: Processes very rarely contain large amounts of data (Big Data), which is a prerequisite for Process Mining methods. The corresponding company structures and the methods to introduce such a technology are missing. Paderborn University, Fraunhofer IEM and the companies Contact Software, Weidmüller and GEA are working to change this. In order to do so, the project will examine and improve Weidmüller's product development and GEA's order processing in an exemplary manner. At GEA, order data is indeed collected systematically and automatically. However, the current quality monitoring based on this data is only possible with a high manual effort. Based on Process Mining, quality monitoring is to be optimised with foresight and made more efficient.


Smart wireless MID sensor systems for IOT applications

The networking of machines, devices and applications on the Internet of Things (IoT) places high demands on product development. There is a discrepancy between the high demand for individual sensors and the electronic technologies available on the market. The solution is sensors that are individually manufactured with the aid of Additive Manufacturing AM (3D printing) and Mechatronic Integrated Devices (MID). Thanks to MID, mechanical and electrical functions are integrated in one component. Where it was previously difficult to place sensors, the new technology makes it possible. The 'MERLIN' project (Smart wireless MID sensor systems for IOT applications) aims to analyse precisely these new possibilities for AM-MID applications in mechanical and plant engineering. For example, the project is concerned with integrating a sensor on rotating clamping tools at the company Berg & Co. This is intended to detect worn bearings at an early stage in order to achieve consistent product quality and avoid failure. Fraunhofer IEM, OWL University of Applied Sciences, and industry partners Lenze SE, CP contech electronic, steute Technologies and Berg & Co. are working on this project together.


Günter Korder, Managing Director of it's OWL Clustermanagement GmbH: "The projects show that it's OWL is primarily 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".


To learn more about all the it's OWL innovation projects, please go to www.its-owl.com