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University and Industry Are Producing Future
A real laboratory for research, development and the latest production technology is being built at a new location in Buschhütten.
Future production will soon take place in factory halls around 130 years old on the premises of the Achenbach Buschhütten company. On September 5, the cooperation project between the University of Siegen (Prof. Dr. Peter Burggräf, Chair of International Production Engineering and Management), RWTH Aachen (Prof. Dr. Günther Schuh, Machine Tool Laboratory), Achenbach Buschhütten and other partners was launched at a ceremony. The result will be a modern location with an innovative infrastructure. The Smart Demonstration Factory Siegen (SDFS) - 120 meters long and 16 meters high - will be the core of the 5,000 square meter site. The idea behind it: Research and teaching are to be experienced in a real production environment.
Initiators of the project with the slogan "We produce. Future" are Prof. Burggräf, holder of the chair "International Production Engineering and Management" (IPEM) at the University of Siegen and Axel Barten, managing partner of the company Achenbach Buschhütten. To this end, Chancellor Ulf Richter and Axel Barten signed the lease agreement. Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economy, Innovation, Digitization and Energy NRW, said in a video message: "The cooperation between science and economy is of great importance. This has long been recognized in the Siegerland region. The challenges of digitalization make exchange even more important."
The project has four pillars:
Research: The Smart Demonstration Factory Siegen (SDFS) is the core of the project, a laboratory for research, development and demonstration of the latest production technology. Here will not only be seminar rooms and offices. Products are to be manufactured under real conditions, which will be put on the market.
Teaching: Prof. Burggräf and the team of his chair will move to the new location. The students of the new Master's program "International Production Engineering and Management" (IPEM) will complete parts of their studies here. Prof. Burggräf explained that the demo factory would make it possible to provide much more practical and up-to-date teaching and students could be better prepared for their professional lives.
Cooperation: The Machine Tool Laboratory (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University, headed by Prof. Schuh, will rent its own space. In addition to the SDFS and Achenbach, other companies and institutes will be located on the site, so that diverse partners with their respective wealth of experience and motivation will combine to form a strong network that will benefit from the mutual exchange and the synergies achieved. The partner is already Carl Cloos Schweißtechnik, which manufactures parts for the electric car "e.GO Life".
Training: The "Smarte Lernfabrik Achenbach Buschhütten" (SLAB) - a training workshop that meets the latest standards - will be created. Achenbach Buschhütten works together with the Chair of Technical Didactics (Prof. Dr. Ralph Dreher) at the University of Siegen for the training concept. "We have here an ideal surrounding field for modern out and further training for the specialists of tomorrow, stressed Axel Barten.
The refurbishment of some of the buildings has already begun, and reconstruction work is about to begin. The plans of architect Florian Hoogen envisage gutting the former foundry hall while preserving all its architectural treasures, and then preparing it for its new use in a combination of industrial culture and modern interior.
Research, teaching and industry are to benefit equally from the new location. In a lively laboratory in which university institutes and industry work together, the production of the future will be researched using real processes. The newly gained knowledge directly benefits the regional companies, which can be advised by the research teams. "It is imperative that we preserve the autonomy of science while using the synergy effects of industrial cooperation for the benefit of society," said Prof. Dr. Holger Burckhart, Rector of the University of Siegen.
A cooperation agreement between the University of Siegen and RWTH Aachen University was signed as early as 2018. The advantage is that the universities can conduct practical research into how data and experience can be transferred from one location to another - the so-called horizontal networking between production sites. This type of research is unique in Germany. "There can be no success without networks," said Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of RWTH Aachen University, summarizing the idea of cooperation.