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Network Smart Production: Ambitious plans and concrete implementations with new members

Network reaches next level

The innovative and implementation-oriented Smart Production network has been able to win numerous new partners in recent months. With the foundation of an association, the next formal step has now been taken to be able to approach the activities strategically far-sighted and optimized in the future.

More than 40 members from the entire Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, including global players such as ABB, Roche and SAP, scientific institutions such as the University of Mannheim and the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences as well as the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University Mannheim, but also small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups consolidated their cooperation in the area of industry 4.0 on 16 December 2016 in the MAFINEX Technology Centre. Numerous new members were welcomed at the founding meeting, after the network had started almost a year earlier with 28 partners.

The newly formed board includes representatives from science with DHBW Mannheim, large companies such as Pepperl+Fuchs and EY, as well as start-ups and medium-sized companies with Königsweg, neogramm and Schweickert Netzwerktechnik. The Economic Development Agency of the City of Mannheim supports the further development of the network and the profiling of the city and region with the appointment of the administrative board and the management. The Rhine-Neckar district continues to be an important and strong partner.

The goals: Concrete implementation and promotion of innovation
The Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region has been established as a "hot spot" for the concrete implementation of Industry 4.0 - this is the aim of the network. The network supports the local (production) companies in networking among themselves as well as with scientific institutions and thus promotes their ability to innovate. Companies and universities implement application-oriented projects and lighthouses. The office takes over the central coordination functions and helps with project initiation and the search for suitable funding. "The network has already resulted in numerous different projects for DHBW Mannheim, especially with start-ups. Cooperation is lived here and results in added value for all," says Prof. Dr. Julian Reichwald, head of the Business Informatics course at the DHBW Mannheim and scientific director of the association.

A further goal of the network is to bind experts and researchers and to bring them to the region, to secure existing jobs and to create new ones. In addition, the network sees itself as an incubator for start-ups of companies as well as research institutions and groups at the location. The central task is also to position the initiative vis-à-vis the state and federal government. The Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region is to position itself optimally in the course of digitisation. The network contributes to this and increases the awareness of the network members nationwide as experts in the field of Smart Production / Industry 4.0.

Advantages for the network members

The Smart Production network is a unique Germany-wide technology platform for growth and innovation in the field of industry 4.0 with a multi-layered approach and addresses a large number of players. On the one hand, there are, for example, developers and researchers who have the opportunity to jointly develop and market new, complex products and services or for whom there are direct application possibilities for newly developed technologies. On the other hand, the network offers users and implementers assistance in the conversion of their own production to digital production processes as well as the use of an innovation-friendly environment and a common infrastructure. Start-ups gain access to key accounts, know-how and customers through cooperation projects.

Pepperl+Fuchs as a globally operating sensor and automation manufacturer has been active and established in Mannheim for many years. "The network continues to provide us with new and important impulses and strengthens the entire region on the way to digital transformation through its concentrated expertise," explains Benedikt Rauscher, head of global IoT projects at Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH and member of the executive board of large companies in the Smart Production network. KMU & Key Accounts are supported by the network with the entrance to innovative technologies and business models as well as with the development of regional business relations and co-operation or in the competition for specialists. The network is implementation-oriented. Hands-on is desired and lived here.

Activities in 2017

Also this year the network has a lot planned. In March, the network will be present at the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis stand with a theme day at CeBIT. Together with three network members, the network will also present itself with its own stand at the Hannover Messe in April. The 5th Network Forum is planned for May and is intended to highlight the strengths of the region within the framework of existing best practices. The first digital summit, the successor of the IT summit, will also take place in Ludwigshafen in June. Together with the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, the network is working on using this platform to bring the region into the public spotlight as a hot spot for digitisation. Different workshop offers round the activities of the network Smart Production off.

Smart Factory Demonstrator

A special highlight and first lighthouse project will also be realized in 2017 - the Smart Factory Demonstrator. The joint project with 22 network partners will be installed on the premises of the MAFINEX Technology Centre in Mannheim. There will be a demonstrator on display that represents a real production process and addresses the key challenges of industry 4.0. "Special attention lies thereby on the material circumstance that many products are manufactured at several locations, decentralized by independent partners , stresses Kai little flower, managing director of the neogramm GmbH & CO. KG and board member KMU. He is also one of the demonstrator's three project managers. 

"Every company is an important piece of the puzzle in a big whole and underlines the necessity of cross-sector cooperation to create synergy effects". The demonstrator is aimed at production companies along the entire value chain as well as the associated logistics and depicts the innovations of the production process on the way to Industry 4.0. A sensor cube is produced that can be loaded individually and is itself IoT-capable.

The network members

ABB AG, Actemium Controlmatic GmbH, Axians IT Solutions GmbH, B&K-Elektronik GmbH, Binder Elektronik GmbH, business design people AG, ConnectingPeopleOnline, Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University Mannheim, Ehrler CNC, Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Glaub Automation & Engineering GmbH, Graduate School Rhein-Neckar gGmbH, Hilger u. Kern GmbH, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, ioxp GmbH, JobRouter AG, KAIROS Partners on time consulting GmbH, Königsweg GmbH, mayato GmbH, MCG Management Consulting Gesellschaft mbh, MM-Automation GmbH, MVV Energie AG, neogramm GmbH & Co. KG, New Engineering GmbH, Onwerk GmbH, Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH, perfect production GmbH, Pfalzkom MAnet GmbH, Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, SAMA PARTNERS Business Solutions GmbH, SAP SE, Schweickert Netzwerktechnik GmbH, soffico GmbH, sovanta AG, speedikon FM AG, City of Mannheim, TechniData IT-Service GmbH, TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH, University of Mannheim, VSF Experts GmbH, WEITNAUER Rechtsanwälte Partnerschaft mbH, yoptino GmbH.