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Fraunhofer Commitment

Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design

Fraunhofer IEM offers expertise for intelligent mechatronics in the context of “Industrie 4.0” and digital transform. Focusing on “Advanced Systems Engineering”, it researches innovative methods and tools for the development of intelligent products, production systems and services. Core competencies are intelligent mechatronic systems, automation, systems engineering and virtual prototyping.

Fraunhofer IEM has had full institute status since January 2017. On 31 March 2017, the scientists celebrated the official opening of the institute with the former NRW Science Minister Svenja Schulze and the Director of Research of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Dr. Raoul Klingner. Fraunhofer IEM is now the first Fraunhofer Institute in East Westphalia-Lippe (OWL) and is strengthening the research location Paderborn in close cooperation with the Heinz Nixdorf Institute of the Paderborn University. It meets the industry’s growing demand for application-oriented research and intelligent mechatronic solutions. Fraunhofer IEM develops specific offers for research and development and is the contact partner for the technology transfer to SMEs – especially in the OWL region. “Here, at Fraunhofer IEM, the future is being shaped in concrete terms. The focus is on developing intelligent products, production systems and services. Here, in OWL, all parties are pulling together – this can be exemplary for other regions and enriches our country”, said Science Minister Svenja Schulze at the opening ceremony.


“An East Westphalian success story”

The initiative for a Fraunhofer Institute in the region of East Westphalia-Lippe is based on the commitment of local industry. “Fraunhofer IEM is an East Westphalian success story. We as entrepreneurs are proud of the development of the Paderborn Institute, with which we have been working closely together for many years”, says Dr Eduard Sailer, who, as the former Managing Director of Miele, together with 17 other regional companies, pushed ahead with the establishment of Fraunhofer IEM. Professor Ansgar Trächtler, Director of Fraunhofer IEM, emphasised how important the support of the partners from the region was for the development of the former Fraunhofer project group. “We would like to express our special thanks to the industry group headed by Dr. Eduard Sailer, the OWL Maschinenbau network, and the Paderborn University with its Heinz Nixdorf Institute. The cooperation with all partners – especially in the Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL – has intensified significantly in recent years. Fraunhofer IEM is sustainably established.”

In the summer of 2017, the Fraunhofer society purchased Zukunftsmeile 1 a permanent location for the IEM enabling a continuous expansion of its research infrastructure for the current 100 employees.

Technology transfer to SMEs: Example “Digitisation in switch cabinet construction”

In the Leading-Edge Cluster it’s OWL, but also in other regional projects such as the BMWi-funded “Digital in NRW – The Competence Center for SMEs”, Fraunhofer IEM is researching technologies and development methods for intelligent products, production systems and processes and is successfully implementing them with small and medium-sized companies. In the “Digital in NRW” project “Digitisation in SMEs”, Fraunhofer IEM cooperated with Schaltanlagen GmbH H. Westermann from Minden. Together, a concept was developed to digitise the planning and production in the company – with a continuous data flow and tablets for the employees. Uwe Friedrichs, Commercial Managing Director of Schaltanlagenbau GmbH H. Westermann: “In this project, we have created valuable foundations for a structured approach to digitisation. In addition to recording current processes, we have analysed how these processes are changing due to digitisation. For this purpose, we also looked at the necessary IT systems and data, which are the basis for digitisation. In particular, we intend to increasingly involve our customers and suppliers in the future in order to digitise the processes.” The employees of Schaltanlagenbau GmbH H. Westermann are also experiencing the benefits of digitisation: At present, they are testing the use of tablets in production. The aim is that the circuit diagrams no longer have to be printed out, but are provided at the workplace as digital assembly instructions.


IT security: Exchange of experience and solution concepts

Fraunhofer IEM supports companies in developing technical systems with complex software efficiently and in high quality. An important aspect that goes hand in hand with increasing networking is IT security. Software has to be equipped with appropriate protection measures against attacks from outside, ideally already in the development process (Security by Design). Fraunhofer IEM brings together companies that are specifically addressing these challenges and want to discuss them in a closed circle in the “IT Security in the Internet of Things” expert group, which met for the first time at Janz Tec in Paderborn in March 2017. Together with many regional companies, including Janz Tec, Hesse Mechatronics, Miele and Phoenix Contact, the scientists have already implemented a number of highly successful projects on the subject of IT security. For example, the security concept of the Secure Appliance solution OSIRIS, which was awarded the INNOVATION AWARD IT 2017, was developed together with Fraunhofer IEM.


Medical technology: Development of exosystems

Fraunhofer IEM also contributes its expertise to development projects beyond its traditional industries such as mechanical and plant engineering. In cooperation with the company OTW Orthopädietechnik Winkler (orthopaedic technology), Fraunhofer IEM uses holistic model-based design methods to develop exosystems to support human motion sequences. In a first step, the modelling comprises an idealised biomechanical model of the human locomotor system and an idealised model of the mechatronic exosystem. These two models are then linked together to form an idealised, parameterised overall model. A virtual prototype is used to carry out model-based compatibility analyses for different movement sequences and groups of people. The time-consuming determination of such results by means of real-world experiments is no longer necessary or is significantly minimised.