"Keep Up the Good Work!"
As part of her summer tour "NRW 4.0" of universities and research institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia, NRW Minister President Hannelore Kraft visited RWTH Aachen Campus. Her visit focused on current research on "Industry 4.0" and its consequences on the world of work. She was accompanied by Karl Schultheis, Spokesperson of the SPD State Parliamentary group in the Committee for Innovation, Science and Research.
Professor Günther Schuh, Chair of Production Engineering and Director of the Institute for Industrial Management at RWTH Aachen (FIR), guided the group of visitors through the demonstrator factory in the Smart Logistics cluster. It is a place where solutions are developed in close collaboration with industrial and research partners.
“By interconnecting all steps in the workflow, we know exactly what is needed where,” explained Schuh. “In this way, we can guarantee an optimized production process.” An exhibition of electric vehicles such as the StreetScooter or the Kart showcased some results of such an optimized approach.
The Minister President explicitly welcomed the new employment opportunities generated by the creation of user-friendly work places and development of new training formats, which are also open to those without specialist qualifications. “I am personally very glad that Industry 4.0 also takes the needs of employees into account.”
At the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, Professor Reinhart Poprawe introduced the delegation to the Digital Photonic Production research campus. Poprawe used the example of 3D-printed metallic components to illustrate the imbrication of real production and the virtual world of information technology: “In 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, successive layers of molten metal are laid down to form a component under computer control.”
As Poprawe explained, this technology makes it possible to produce components of all kinds, which can be used in the automotive industry, in the production of jet engines, or in medical engineering, for example.
After visiting several facilities of the research campus, the NRW Minister President was impressed by the research under way: “We are proud of what you are accomplishing here. Keep up the good work!”