In the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Lead Project E³-production, Fraunhofer staff from thirteen institutes are conducting interdisciplinary research on the development of new technologies and processes for the intelligent, zero-emission and resource-saving production sites of the future. Within the scope of this research project, the Fraunhofer IMW invited selected experts from IG Metall, BMW, Rhode & Schwarz, Chemmedia AG, Leipzig University of Applied Sciences HTWK and Leipzig University to a scenario thinking workshop in Leipzig on 9 March 2017.
After Dr. Mayra Bezerra Hartmann, research fellow with the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Divison, presented the normative vision of the networked E³ factory in 2030, the workshop participants identified key factors to make this vision a reality. Working in small groups, they then developed two future projections for each of these key factors, a probable projection and a desirable projection. The experts said that one cornerstone for the success of the networked factory was involving the staff at an early stage of the innovation process. As a probable development, they described a situation where a company would either fail to ensure this early involvement, presently lacked the capability of leading interdisciplinary teams or would meet interpersonal resistance in a participative innovation process. As a desirable version, they developed a projection where the participative innovation process in the company would establish an environment where the staff would feel motivated to pursue lifelong learning.
The workshop generated two main results: In the industry, the success of the research project and of the intelligent factory concept depends to a great extent on the communication strategy, which must be in line with the values of selected companies. In society, the success of the E³ factory concept and the level of acceptance depend on the targeted training and further qualification of students and employees.
Although the first stage of the lighthouse project will be completed by the end of April 2017, the work will go on. The team of Leipzig researchers led by Dr. Nizar Abdelkafi and Marina Thuns from the Business Models: Engineering and Innovation Unit and Dr. Mayra Bezerra Hartmann from the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Division will now summarize the findings and methods from all lighthouse project work packages in a working paper. The focus will be on the knowledge transfer within the lighthouse project, the industry and the scientific community.