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IKV to build Smart Factory on the Campus Melaten

On 16 December 2019, the Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and Craft at RWTH Aachen University was informed that approval had been given for further construction to be carried out at IKV's site in Aachen Melaten. By the year 2022, the "Plastics Innovation Centre 4.0" (PIC 4.0) will be built at Seffenter Weg – a completely interconnected research and development environment occupying a total area of 4,200 square metres. The cost of the project will be 19.5 million euros, to be funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Drawing of the building complex scheduled to 2022. The new buildings for the Plastics Innovation Center 4.0 will be built on the right-hand area. (Figure: aig+ Architekten)
Drawing of the building complex scheduled to 2022. The new buildings for the Plastics Innovation Center 4.0 will be built on the right-hand area. (Figure: aig+ Architekten)

With a holistic approach that covers both research & development and the qualification of companies and employees in the field of digitisation in plastics processing, IKV is aiming to become a world-leading Industry 4.0 centre for the plastics industry.

The project will begin with preparatory research and development work to fully interconnect the existing research infrastructure and covering the complete documentation for the building-up of a Smart Factory. The accompanying development of learning and teaching concepts will ensure the transfer of research results into university teaching and industrial practice, and enabling future skilled workers to become qualified in the field of Plastics Industry 4.0, and thus increase the economic strength of the industry of the State of NRW.

Even during the construction phase and then later in the course of the research work, the scientists involved in the PIC 4.0 project will devise solutions on comprehensive process data acquisition and processing along complex value chains in plastics processing. Through digital engineering, the development of the plastic part and the process technology will be simulated virtually with the help of uninterrupted simulation chains, right the way through from the initial specifications for the part to the finished quality.

In addition, the integrated research infrastructure will also be a testing environment for future developments within the Cluster of Excellence "Internet of Production" of RWTH Aachen University. In this connection, PIC 4.0 offers on the one hand support with specific technical and organisational issues from everyday practice in the plastics industry that are linked with digitised processes. On the other, innovative digitisation technologies and approaches can be tested so that even abstract concepts and reference architectures from industry can be tried out and their potential benefits determined.

Finally, the construction work for the PIC 4.0 project on the IKV site at Seffenter Weg will help IKV, 70 years after it was founded, to bring all the fields of IKV research together on one site.