Siemens RIE Conference 2021 at RWTH Aachen
Sustainability in Production beyond Zero
Our yearly conference between RWTH Aachen University researchers and Siemens and managers (again) a bit different: First, it was the first conference in the context of the new Research and Innovation Ecosystem Aachen Arc. Second, we directly implemented the ecosystem and invited participants from KU Leuven as our special guests. And third, we carried out a hybrid event – the speakers and start-ups were live with us in Aachen, the rest of the world joined us digitally from their (home) offices.
“Sustainability in Production beyond Zero” was this year’s topic and we discussed the pressing challenges in this industry segment by focusing on three areas: Digitisation, e.g., data synchronization and data modelling; product and manufacturing design, e.g., zero-waste production; and supply chain, e.g., reduction of the CO2 footprint.
Prof. Malte Brettel (RIE Management Sponsor at RWTH) and Dr. Peter Körte (CTO & CSO, Siemens AG) welcomed the diverse on-site and virtual audience by highlighting the importance of collaboration across industries and universities. The new Research and Innovation Ecosystem connects players from all disciplines and all institutions. Everyone is welcome to participate: students, founders, researchers, managers can all contribute to and benefit from the network. The challenges cannot be tackled alone, you have to open up and bring the best together. It is the outcome that matters!
After this great opening, an inspiring panel took place moderated by Raphael Kiesel (Chair for Machine Tools, RWTH Aachen). Prof. Wim Desmet (Managing Director, KU Leuven), Dr. Gunter Beitinger (SVP Manufacturing, Siemens AG) and Prof. Robert Schmitt (Head of Chair of Production Metrology and Quality Management, RWTH Aachen) discussed the three focus topics and gave first impulses for the virtual round tables in the afternoon.
The Key Take Aways:
Connecting across borders and involving all relevant stakeholders in the ecosystems are key drivers of research and innovation and thereby sustainability. Besides technological innovation, carbon sinks are needed to reach net-zero as soon as possible.
What are the specific technologies to enable sustainability through digitalisation, design and in the supply chain? The digital twin and trustworthy certified data sharing via an open-source ecosystem are potential enablers. More computational power with lower energy consumption needs to be developed to handle the amount of data in a sustainable way. Governmental decisions like policies that reward expensive recycling of rare materials can be helpful along the way.
After this vivid discussion, two start-ups from our region presented their technologies to the audience: Marcel Wilms from gemineers presented their platform for data-driven quality assurance to evaluate part quality and Alexander Igelmann from Lidrotec illustrated how they can cut materials with ultrashort laser pulses in a liquid environment to reduce waste in production.
Malte Brettel and Peter Körte summed up the short and crisp virtual conference and highlighted the actions to be taken by the parties involved so far.
Our virtual participants intensified these topics in three roundtables led by Niels König (Fraunhofer IPT), Malena Schulz (Fraunhofer IPT) as well as Antonia Klopfer (OM, RWTH Aachen) and Jessica Rahn (fir, RWTH Aachen).The roundtables focused on the life-cycle of data in a digitalized production and how the life-cycle costs of products itself can be measured. It became clear, that the ESC rating is becoming more and more important and with it new regulations e.g. the new supply chain law for larger companies. In order to fully create an eco-friendly design of a product, it is important to look at the whole process chain and to overcome system boundaries. When thinking about sustainability, there are a lot of ressources that can still be optimized – but what is the optimal strategy and which criteria need to be evaluated. They respectively focused on how digitalisation can have an environmental, social and governmental impact on production, how the design of processes in manufacturing can result in less waste and how the selection of partners and suppliers can ensure more sustainable practices.
At the same time, the on-site participants saw the newest innovations on 5G in the Demonstrationsfabrik on Campus Melaten, including a hands-on activity by Peter Körte und Gunter Beitinger to test the newest innovation and assistance features in an assembly line.
The inspiring day had its conclusion with a visit to the Collective Incubator at Campus Jahrhunderthalle, Aachen’s newest hot spot for students and start-ups with (co-)working spaces and a future workshop area.
In recent years sustainability moved from a management topic to becoming a personal topic, requiring everyone to contribute and personally commit to solving today’s sustainability challenges. So, quoting Dr. Peter Körte “Talk is cheap, it is the action that matters”, we are looking forward to collaborating with all stakeholders in the new ecosystem in order to tackle the challenges to come!
If you want to watch the panel discussion as well as the pitches (again), grab some popcorn and enjoy it here.
If you would like to know more about the Siemens RIE Aachen Arc or get in touch with one of our speakers or panelists, feel free to reach out!