In the technology network it's OWL - Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe, more than 200 companies, research institutes and organisations develop solutions for intelligent products and production processes. With support of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, projects worth EUR 100 million will be implemented between 2018 and 2022. The focus topics will be artificial intelligence, digital platforms, digital twins and work 4.0. Named as one of the Leading-Edge Clusters by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, it's OWL is considered to be one of the largest Industrie 4.0 initiatives for SMEs. Over the last five years, it’s OWL has established itself as a driver for competitiveness of the manufacturing industry in OstWestfalenLippe.
OstWestfalenLippe is among the strongest production areas in Europe, characterised by a high concentration of employment, capacity for innovation and export quota. The region has 400 companies in mechanical engineering, the electrical and electronics industry and the automotive supply industry, providing jobs for around 80,000 employees and generating annual revenue of EUR 17 billion.
The core of the cluster is made up of family-run businesses and a wide range of medium-sized firms. This includes numerous market leaders: strong brands such as Benteler, Claas, Diebold Nixdorf, DMG Mori, GEA, Hella, Hettich und Miele, but also lots of hidden champions such as Kannegiesser or WP Kemper. Beckhoff, Harting, KEB, Lenze, Phoenix Contact, Wago and Weidmüller set global standards in industrial electronics. In connection technology, they have a world market share of 75 percent.
Regional universities and research facilities are a byword for top-class research areas such as artificial intelligence, industry automation, work 4.0, and Systems Engineering. Around 1000 scientists are working on the solutions of tomorrow in four special research areas, 18 research institutes and three Fraunhofer institutes. Universities offer over 20,000 students excellent training in STEM subjects.
47 projects were implemented from 2012 to 2017 as part of the Leading-Edge Cluster, supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In this respect, businesses and research institutes have developed solutions that companies can use to improve the reliability, resource efficiency and user-friendliness of their devices, machines and systems.
Global market leaders in automation technology have thus developed new solutions for the production of tomorrow. These range from intelligent control systems and drives, data analytics, consistent data usage and machine learning to collaborative robotics.
DMG MORI has designed intelligent tool machines, Kannegiesser has created a resource-efficient, self-optimising industrial laundry machine. Diebold Nixdorf’s self-service terminals have been fitted with intelligent user interfaces. Claas has advanced agricultural machine networking and environment detection. Hella has developed intelligent headlights and improved the range of electric cars.
The basis for this was basic technologies that universities and research institutes have used to make the results of top-class research available to businesses. The focus here was on the topics of self-optimisation, human-machine interaction, intelligent networking, energy efficiency and Systems Engineering.
Mainly small and medium-sized businesses have benefitted from this thanks to an innovative transfer concept. In 171 transfer projects, they were able to resolve specific challenges in operations, and take their first steps on the road to Industrie 4.0. The feedback is outstanding: three quarters of companies are happy with the product schedule. 69 percent report that they have made significant advancements.
In the Work 4.0 model project, five companies tested the introduction of assistance systems in production, together with IG Metall. Top management, employees, the works council and trade union worked together closely in the process. Particular factors for success are a positive basic attitude on digitisation, in-depth communication in businesses, and involving employees.
it’s OWL is a powerful stimulus for competitiveness in the manufacturing industry in OstWestfalenLippe. Businesses have created around 7,500 new jobs since the start of the Leading-Edge Cluster in 2012.
34 businesses have been founded in the field of flexible production. This includes the Werkbliq servicing platform and verlinked GmbH, who are providing solutions for machine communication. Solihde is developing customised solutions for business process optimisation. And Assembly Solutions is designing tailor-made assistance systems for assembly and maintenance.
Seven research institutes have been created, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Design (Paderborn) and the Fraunhofer IOSB - INA Department for Industrial Automation (Lemgo).
Furthermore, 23 new practical courses have been created at six universities by involving the business sector - which include several dual and vocational offerings. The number of STEM students increased to 48 percent as a result.