16 years after the first application, the SKZ Model Factory was opened on November 9. Together with the Training Center Quality and an in-house daycare center, lighthouse projects for digitization in the manufacturing of plastic products were created in the Industrial Area East in Würzburg. The start of operations is planned from the beginning of 2023.
Deputy District Administrator of Würzburg Karen Heußner, Secretary of State Boris Petschulat, President of the Government Lower Franconia Dr. Eugen Ehmann, State Secretary Anna Stolz, Institute Director of SKZ Prof. Martin Bastian, Deputy Bavarian Minister President Hubert Aiwanger, Lord Mayor of Würzburg Christian Schuchardt, Deputy District Administrator of Kitzingen Robert Finster and architect Steffen Rothenhöfer at the opening of the SKZ model factory (l.t.r.) (Photo: SKZ)
At the ceremonial opening on November 09, Bavaria's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Hubert Aiwanger, Prof. Martin Bastian, Institute Director of SKZ, Boris Petschulat from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) and Christian Schuchardt, Mayor of the City of Würzburg, did not miss the opportunity to address personal greetings to the guests. "Today is a good day for Bavaria and Lower Franconia. With the Model Factory and the training center, the SKZ in Würzburg is setting an example of optimism and the future," emphasized Aiwanger. "As the state government, we are strengthening the plastics industry and therefore support this development toward more automation and high-tech. Equally important are more interfaces with the bioeconomy. Lignin from waste wood, for example, can replace conventional petroleum-based plastics. In this way, we use our domestic resources, reduce the ecological footprint and enable production in Germany. It would be fatal if we were to obtain plastic components only through imports."
In the presence of the planners and construction managers, the guests were then able to take a tour to get a first impression of the Model Factory, the Training Center Quality and the company daycare center. Mr. Aiwanger also posed for a 3D scan, receiving a small 3D-printed image of himself. Finally, the architect ceremoniously handed over the key to the model factory to Prof. Bastian. "Thanks to the excellent work of project control, planners and project management, it has been possible to implement the two lighthouse projects Model Factory and Training Center Quality even in times of challenging framework conditions. I would like to thank all those involved and will treasure this key," Bastian was pleased to say.
SKZ Model Factory
The Model Factory offers 4,700 square meters of floor space, including 1,700 square meters of pilot plants and laboratories and approximately 600 square meters of networking and conference space, as well as room for around 110 highly qualified employees. The focus of activities in the Model Factory will be the practical implementation of Industry 4.0 for the plastics industry. In the new premises, it will be possible to break down this abstract topic to concrete problems in production and application - especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. In the Model Factory, therefore, topics relevant to the future, such as digitalization in production and artificial intelligence or machine learning and individual manufacturing, as well as Testing 4.0, among others, will be comprehensively researched. A "Digitalization" research group has already been available for years as an interface to industry. In addition, a research group "Sustainability and Circular Economy" will be located in the Model Factory to meet current challenges, such as CO2 footprint and energy efficiency. Together with the industrial proximity of the SKZ, a transfer of ideas and solutions into industrial practice and a comprehensive technology transfer is efficiently possible through the conference area integrated in the model factory. Savings measures have made it possible to absorb most of the current increases in construction prices. The total costs of the model factory amount to approx. € 28 million, of which approx. € 14.8 million are borne by the State of Bavaria (with funds from the StMWi).
Training Center Quality
In addition, the Training Center Quality was built in the immediate vicinity of the model factory in February 2022. Just under half of the training center's 1,000 square meters of floor space has been earmarked for training rooms. In addition, state-of-the-art equipment and innovative teaching and learning methods are intended to counteract the shortage of skilled workers. In this new training center, around 90 different courses with a high level of practical relevance will be offered each year on the subject of quality. The aim is to make the industry competitive in the long term by providing a high level of qualification and further training for skilled workers. Of the total eligible costs of around € 9.5 million, the federal government (represented by BAFA from BMWK funds) is contributing 50 % and the state of Bavaria (from StMWi funds) 25 %. The SKZ's own contribution here amounts to approx. € 3.9 million.
In addition, a company daycare center is being built in the Model Factory. This will create up to 15 new daycare places and will help relieve the pressure on the remaining childcare places in Würzburg from January 1, 2023. The city of Würzburg is subsidizing this measure with around € 600,000.