Fast track to innovation – machinery and plant manufacturers in Saxony-Anhalt focus on Industry 4.0

KSB AG

The new 62-metre-long pedestrian bridge “Baakenhafen Mitte” in the new HafenCity quarter in Hamburg, for example, is not just an impressive construction. Companies and researchers from Saxony-Anhalt have also turned the bridge building into a “digital construction site” in a pilot project. By means of radio-based tracking technology, the elements of the bridge were tracked both during their manufacture in the factory of Stahlbau Magdeburg GmbH and during assembling. This information is processed in a site information system developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF) in Magdeburg, which is at the same time also able to simulate logistic flows in such a way that the customer will in future be able to call the respective project status in real time, from the production up to the assembly.

Industry 4.0 – According to the Association of German Engineers (VDI), Saxony-Anhalt is well prepared for the fourth industrial revolution. More and more companies are recognising the relevance of digitisation or are already working with it. Mechanical and plant engineering is particularly important in this process. Because the industry is one of the top five in terms of sales volume and is continuing to develop extremely well. Saxony-Anhalt currently has 364 companies in the machinery and plant engineering sector. In 2016 they generated approx. 2.3 billion euros of sales. Around 80 companies, with more than 12,500 employees, are directly active in the industry. More than a third of all businesses in the manufacturing sector in Saxony-Anhalt operate in the field of mechanical engineering, the manufacturing of metal products, and metal processing.

Excellent conditions for national and international companies in the industry to settle here. “Companies and research institutions are traditionally very closely networked here in Saxony-Anhalt, right along the value chain. For example, the state offers firms attractive cooperation options for successfully building up their mechanical engineering companies and opening up European markets”, emphasises Thomas Einsfelder, Managing Director of the Investment and Marketing Corporation Sachsen-Anhalt (IMG), the business development agency of this German state. “As IMG we are the partner for investors and support them during the whole settlement process: during the search for a site in the state, in questions of subsidies and financing, and dealing with authorities, to pointing out suitable partners or networks”, adds Einsfelder.

Saxony-Anhalt is a high-performing region in machinery and plant construction, with an international profile. Engineering “Made in Saxony-Anhalt” is in demand around the world: almost 40 percent of all the industry’s sales are abroad. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digitisation of Saxony-Anhalt has recognised machinery and plant engineering as a driving force for the state’s economy and defined the industry, in the “Regional Innovation Strategy of Saxony-Anhalt 2014 to 2020”, as one of the economic lead markets requiring particular political support. This market of the future in Saxony-Anhalt is called “Energy, Mechanical and Plant Engineering, and Resource Efficiency”.

And the order books are full. In the past few years, monthly sales figures have been consistently above the respective level of the previous year. 150 years of experience are the basis of this success. Globally operating companies include, for example ENERCON GmbH, SKET Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH, FAM Magdeburger Förderanlagen und Baumaschinen GmbH, MTU Reman Technologies GmbH or Laempe & Mössner GmbH. The big systems are built in the state’s chemical parks. The chemical region of Central Germany includes, for example, Dow Olefinverbund GmbH or the TOTAL refinery at the chemical site of Leuna, one of the most modern refineries in Europe.

Previously a centre of heavy machinery construction, Saxony-Anhalt is now focussing on high-tech production for producers and suppliers of the machinery and plant engineering industry. As one of Germany’s leading states in the use of renewable energies, Saxony-Anhalt is also making use of its existing technological edge in renewable energy systems in this emerging market. Another advantage of the site: In the state there are qualified, flexible skilled personnel, and universities, among other institutions, that specialise in producing new engineers, with around 11,000 students of engineering sciences.

In order to continue to exist in the future, the emerging market of machinery and plant engineering in Saxony-Anhalt is relying on digitisation. The Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF, Professor Michael Schenk, expects that the digitisation of products and production processes will open up massive potentials. Above all, however, Saxony-Anhalt has an above-average scientific landscape, with two universities, four technical colleges, and more than twenty non-university research institutions. “This highly efficient science and research landscape is a genuine site advantage for Saxony-Anhalt, especially with Industry 4.0”, says Andrea Urbansky. This scientist from the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF is also the Managing Director of the Special Purpose Association for the Promotion of Machinery and Plant Engineering FASA.

“Interaction between business, science and politics is urgently necessary, so as not to miss the point of entry into the digital world of work”, says Andrea Urbansky. FASA e.V., together with KAT (Network of Expertise for Applied and Transfer-Oriented Research), therefore started the “Partnership Network Economy 4.0”, with the support of Saxony-Anhalt’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digitisation. The aim of the network is the sustainable bundling of regional activities in the field of the digital economy and society, and the swift spread of technological innovations out into the world from Saxony-Anhalt – made in Germany. 

author: Michael Falgowski

SPECIAL MACHINERY CLUSTER OPPORTUNITIES IN EASTERN GERMANY

From 3 to 9 September 2017, in Singapore, Germany Trade & Invest will be informing readers about the cluster SMAB (Sondermaschinen und Anlagenbau / Special-Purpose Machine and Plant Engineering) from the Eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt.

At an investor event together with the Investment and Marketing Company Saxony-Anhalt, companies and research institutions will be pointing out the special opportunities that Singaporean companies will find if they settle in Saxony-Anhalt. The region is regarded as the source of top engineering work, including, for example, solutions for energy-efficient industrial production.


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