26 October 2021 - Datenfabrik.NRW: The production of tomorrow becomes reality

How can we use artificial intelligence to make production in Germany fit for the future in international competition? Pioneering work for this major challenge is being done by the "Datenfabrik.NRW" project of the leading-edge cluster it's OWL, in which the companies CLAAS and Schmitz Cargobull are working together with NTT Data, Duvenbeck Kraftverkehr and MotionMiners as well as the Fraunhofer Institutes IEM, IML, IOSB-INA and IAIS to develop a model for a data-driven factory of the future - and implement it directly in real production environments. The project has a total volume of 14.5 million euros and is funded with 9.2 million euros by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The project was launched today by NRW Economics and Digital Minister Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart.

"The manufacturing sector is an essential economic factor in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Datenfabrik.NRW project is designed to ensure that this remains the case in the future and that our economy is best equipped for the digital transformation. I am pleased that we can bundle the knowledge and experience of global market leaders and top research institutions in this project to make production in our state fit for the future," says Economics and Digital Affairs Minister Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart during his visit to Harsewinkel.

The Datenfabrik.NRW is a flagship project of the leading-edge cluster it's OWL and is of great importance for the industrial location OstWestfalenLippe. "Artificial intelligence has enormous potential for making machines and plants more efficient and productive. With the data factory, we want to completely rethink production - and consistently record and utilise data from factory planning to production and logistics. Manufacturing companies throughout OWL can benefit from the results and experiences. it's OWL will organise workshops, tours and transfer projects for this purpose," emphasises Günter Korder, Managing Director of it's OWL Clustermanagement GmbH.

New production facilities at CLAAS and Schmitz Cargobull

The Datenfabrik.NRW is an important building block for the conversion of combine harvester production at Claas. "The Datenfabrik.NRW project has come at exactly the right time and fits in perfectly with our plant modernisation currently underway," says Stefan Schulte, Managing Director of Claas Selbstfahrende Erntemaschinen GmbH. CLAAS has invested 44 million euros and is building a completely new 15,000 square metre hall at the heart of its combine harvester production. The "Synpro" project is creating the conditions for the production of the high-end combine harvesters of the future. Digital solutions will then be developed to further safeguard the quality of the machines and increase efficiency in the factory. For example, automatically controlled driverless transport systems are already in use today, travelling between the individual assembly stations with the harvesters that weigh several tonnes. Overall, the new combine harvester production will ensure higher quality and better jobs.

As the leading trailer manufacturer in Europe, Schmitz Cargobull is driving digitalisation both in production and in its product and service offering. The industry is highly dependent on economic fluctuations, which requires rapid adaptation to rapidly changing conditions, especially in production. Schmitz Cargobull's main production sites are in the Münsterland region - the plant for semi-trailers in Vreden and the plant for curtainsiders in Altenberge.

Chairman of the Board Andreas Schmitz: "We will test the findings that we gain for production, production planning and production logistics through our participation in the Datenfabrik.NRW project directly at the Vreden plant. The Vreden plant will then take on a model function in our international production network for the further development of production as a whole."

The data factory is a flagship project of the AI.NRW competence platform, which aims to develop North Rhine-Westphalia into a leading nationwide location for applied artificial intelligence (AI) and establish the state in international networks. As the central state umbrella organisation for artificial intelligence, KI.NRW combines the triad of cutting-edge research, innovation and entrepreneurship. The goal is to accelerate the transfer of AI from cutting-edge research to industry, to establish a leading region for professional qualification in AI and to set impulses in the social dialogue.

Dr Christian Temath, Managing Director of KI.NRW: "In the pioneering project Datenfabrik.NRW, AI systems are used directly in real-life environments of factory planning, production, logistics and corporate architecture. The strong partners from NRW thus show that AI is no longer a dream of the future, but is already a real help for companies - a fine example of how the transfer from research to application can succeed. We are therefore very pleased to include the data factory as a lighthouse project at KI.NRW."