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Industry 4.0: The Car State enjoys an Innovation Boost

The Chemnitz Automotive Institute aims to boost Saxony’s automotive competence in science and industry through close cooperation with industry partners

The beginning of 2015 saw work begin at the newly founded Chemnitz Automotive Institute (CATI), headed by Prof. Egon Müller, Prof. Werner Olle and Prof. Christoph Igel. Thus far, Germany’s research and university landscape has contained three institutes focusing on the automotive industry: the Center Automotive Research (CAR) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Institute for the Automotive Industry (IFA) at Nürtingen-Geislingen University and the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) at Bergisch-Gladbach University of Applied Sciences.

The ‘car state’ of Saxony, with its competence and tradition in the automotive industry, was not previously represented. ‘The Chemnitz Automotive Institute aims to develop an independent profile which sets it apart from existing institutes’, says CATI Director Igel. The institute is geared towards the automotive industry’s design needs arising from the three major challenges of internalisation, innovation and demographic change. Building on this strategic orientation, CATI initiates, conducts and pools research into the fields of automotive economy, automotive factories and automotive logistics, focusing in particular on developing, testing and transferring process innovations.

Due to the major importance of innovation and knowledge transfer, the Chemnitz Automotive Institute has deliberately been integrated into an institute affiliated to TU Chemnitz (namely TU Chemnitz education, TUCed GmbH) as an independent division. This setup also enables close connections with other institutes at the university, including the Institute for Management and Factory Systems with its combination of experimental and digital factory, versatile factory kit and innovation laboratory.

CATI undertakes practice-oriented applied research which requires support and advice from experienced industry partners. This task is entrusted to the Advisory Board which was established in early December, with members including famous names from the automotive industry. Volkswagen, Porsche, Brose, Magnetto Automotive, Schnellecke Logistics and Hörmann-Rawema are all represented (OEMs, suppliers and service providers). They are joined by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and the Automotive Cluster of East Germany (ACOD) as industry representatives, as well as by representatives of various applied research institutions. ‘We are proud that a group of such skilled individuals is enthusiastic about our idea for the Chemnitz Automotive Institute’, according to Rector of TU Chemnitz Prof. Arnold van Zyl.

Specific issues which will begin to be examined over the coming months include the digitisation of production (in particular in the supply industry), the impact of the internationalisation of the German automotive industry on employment, automation in logistics, and future automotive value creation structures. The institute’s industry partners – a key result arising from the constituent meeting of the Advisory Board – also expect CATI to provide support for qualification and further training requirements within their companies which have been expedited by the future trend of Industry 4.0. CATI’s incorporation into TU Chemnitz education will enable it to react in an ideal fashion, drawing on synergies with various faculties and departments within TU Chemnitz.