Fields of Expertise
With almost 6.12 million people in over 45,000 companies and a share of about 23 percent of gross value added in Germany, the manufacturing industry is the foundation for growth, prosperity, and jobs. As the central place of value creation, the factory combines both technology and people into a socio-technical system.
The increasingly turbulent environment and global competition pose a versatile and complex challenge for today’s factories. On the one hand, the trend towards shorter product life cycles does not stop at the product "factory". On the other hand, digitalization and automation are increasingly finding their way into production. In addition, increasing demands for an ecologically sustainable factory and the increasing volatility of the factory environment are significantly changing the character of factories.
The design of future-proof factories, therefore, requires the mastering of numerous challenges, which can only be managed if all parties involved, e. g. production and logistics planners, specialist planners, architects, and civil engineers work together. This is exactly what we do with our partners from industry and research.
The Factory Planning Department focuses on integrative planning as a key factor in designing the factory of the future. In addition to the Green Factory and the Circular Economy, the department focuses on the design of resilient factories and the development of innovative factory concepts. Digital factory planning competencies and the possibilities of digital factory twins form a crucial basis for this.
We address these topics in a variety of research and consulting projects to develop and implement solutions for the factory of the future.
For Germany as a business location, assembly is of great importance as one of the sectors with the highest number of personnel. More than any other area of the company, the assembly system must react flexibly to volatile market changes in order to ensure the company's success. At the same time, despite increasing digitalization and automation, people will remain an important part of the assembly in the future.
Against this background, manufacturing companies must both master the increasing complexity of assembly and support employees in the best possible way. For this reason, we are researching solutions to design the assembly of the future. In addition to the development of adaptive, digital assistance systems and innovative concepts for making assembly systems more flexible, such as matrix assembly, this also includes reassembly concepts in the sense of the circular economy.
Plant Structure Planning
Plant structure planning focuses on the actual core of factory planning: the interdisciplinary cooperation of various partners in production, logistics, and construction planning. The task of factory structure planning is to develop optimal factory structures with regard to medium- and long-term strategic as well as functional goals. A wide variety of key issues pave the way to the factory of the future:
- Digitally and fully networked industrial construction planning (e.g. by means of Building Information Modelling) and value stream-optimized material and information flows.
- The conservation of resources in the planning, construction, and operation of the factory under economic aspects in the sense of a green factory.
- The simplexity approach for coping with increasing individualization and diversity of variants through the modularisation of the factory in the sense of a modular system.
Digital Factory Planning
Intelligent factories are characterized not only by the integration of smart Industry 4.0 technologies but also by using planning data in everyday factory operations. The goal of future-oriented factory planning is therefore the digital integration of planning processes.
For target-oriented planning, complexity can be reduced by determining reference data from the digital factory twin of existing factories and planning projects. Based on this, the automation of planning processes, e.g. through decision support, represents an important field of research.
Within the framework of digital factory planning, comprehensive concepts and digital tools are being developed to support planners in expanding the range and depth of use of planning data. For this purpose, the many years of experience in the area of factory planning as well as the existing competencies for the design of user-oriented software tools are being used.
In the field of factory planning, the WZL pursues a coordinated program of industrial offers and research topics that provide effective solutions for the individual problems of manufacturing companies.
The competence profile of the department covers the entire spectrum of tasks in the design, organization, and management of production. Currently, almost 15 research assistants and around 40 student assistants are working on projects in the manufacturing industry in cooperation with local mechanical engineering companies up to international DAX corporations. We have a network that stretches from Aachen and Munich to China and the US. In cooperation with our customers, we develop needs-based analyses, future-oriented and sustainable concepts for all aspects of factory planning and implement them directly in practice. Through our know-how from research, we create innovative solutions that represent an entrepreneurial added value for our partners.
As a scientific institute, application-oriented research projects are one of our core competencies. In consortia, we seek answers to the most important questions of manufacturing companies.
In the AIMFREE project, for example, we are researching a highly flexible and resilient production system for future-oriented assembly without cycle times and rigid connections between assembly stations.
In the AGASTIK project, we are developing methods for optimizing production start-up phases through the automated generation of assembly planning data using specialized AI software.
Seminars and Events
As a department, we offer a variety of seminars, courses, and other educational events. We always take a practical approach, which is complemented by external guest speeches. On the events page, you will find all the continuing education options on offer.
- DRIVE Consulting (formerly StreetScooter Research) is a management consultancy with a focus on technical projects in the automotive environment for manufacturing companies. DRIVE Consulting advises both German and international premium manufacturers as well as young, up-and-coming companies on digitalization and production issues.
- ONEFACTORY GmbH aims to offer first-class production technology, attractive architecture, and efficient building technology as a complete solution from a single source. Together, we expand our production technology competencies to include constructional and architectural ones in order to accompany the entire planning process from planning to realization.