The future of plastics processing takes off: On 25 May 2020, construction work began on the SKZ Model Factory - A beacon with charisma far beyond the borders of Bavaria and Germany.
In industrial reality, the majority of manufacturing companies are geared towards delivering quality at low cost as well as high quantities. The processes are usually precisely organised and extremely stable. Innovations therefore often fall by the wayside in day-to-day business and there is little room for experimentation. This particularly affects the small and medium-sized enterprises that strongly characterise the plastics industry. Nevertheless, innovations as an elementary component of economic growth are absolutely necessary for future development and competitiveness.
"This is where the SKZ model factory comes into play: it connects the industrial and digital worlds to enable innovations in production, among other things. Concrete industrial tasks can be simulated here and tackled away from series production in an industry-oriented environment with a high level of expertise. In this way, space and time are created to test solutions and concretely implement topics such as Industry 4.0," explains SKZ Managing Director Dr Thomas Hochrein.
Within the new centre, which is being built in the immediate vicinity of the processing technology and the SKZ Technology Centre in Würzburg, different sectors will be created on over 4,600 square metres of floor space. Research areas such as additive manufacturing, injection moulding, joining and surface technology or Measuring and Testing 4.0 (process measurement technology, non-destructive testing, component properties) will be advanced here. But also the activities in the areas of sustainability and circular economy, which are highly topical right now and which the SKZ has been pushing for many years, can now be further expanded. Cluster activities for technology transfer in the form of conferences, workshops or expert circles as well as marketing are also to be based in the model factory and thus enable the transfer of innovative ideas into marketable innovations.
"Flexible OpenSpace office worlds will improve interdepartmental and interdisciplinary collaboration. Short distances throughout the building will increase mutual exchange and the efficiency of SKZ as a service provider for SMEs" explains Project Manager for the Model Factory Dr Johann Erath.
A crèche for 12 children and a parent-child room will also be built on the ground floor to meet the flexible working world of tomorrow and the increasing demands for a better work-life balance.
"The model factory will create the necessary know-how by 2022 to ensure that Bavaria and Germany remain at the forefront of Industry 4.0 production. The current Corona crisis in particular shows how important plastics are in many respects - whether as hygiene protection in the food sector or as an indispensable component of respiratory masks and medical devices," summarises SKZ Institute Director Prof. Martin Bastian. However, the SKZ would be ill-advised to ramp up its activities only from this point on. There is already an urgent need for support for industry, so work is already being done on the aforementioned topics.
"The completion of the model factory will give these activities another immense boost and unfold its full radiance. It will create a transfer centre for research and development that is unique in the world - here we will show how work will be done tomorrow. We are very happy that things are finally getting underway and that we as SKZ are optimally equipped to shape the future," Bastian is pleased to say.
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