Industry is currently facing new challenges, particularly due to global climate change and the increase in product piracy involving German machines, plants and their components. The expert discussions and the accompanying exhibition therefore focused on the topics of product piracy and energy and resource efficiency. The exhibition also presented the latest results in the field of product research.
Speaking at the opening of the BMBF's congress, which takes place every two years, Dr. Wolfgang Stöffler, Head of Directorate "Key Technologies - Production Research" at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), emphasized the important role of production research within the High-Tech Strategy for Germany. "Production is the basis of the German economy: According to information from the VDMA (German Engineering Federation), approximately 6,000 firms in the German machine construction sector alone had a turnover of an estimated 195 billion euros in 2007 and employed approximately 922,000 people.
The BMBF is funding production research as one of 17 fields of innovation within the framework of the High-Tech Strategy. "We must also increase our strengths in mechanical and plant engineering;" Stöffler emphasized. With the High-Tech Strategy, the BMBF has acknowledged Germany's global responsibility for climate protection as a high-tech nation. The aim is to tackle the problems of climate change in the long term by promoting innovative technologies and know-how and to open up new markets with climate-friendly production processes. Stöffler continued: "The manufacturing industry still accounts for approximately 42% of Germany's overall primary energy consumption. We need more efficient production methods in order to reduce our energy consumption in future and achieve our climate protection goals. Increasing resource efficiency in production processes will therefore be an important political and economic project over the next few years."
Stöffler took advantage of the 2008 Working Talks to announce a new key area in the BMBF's research funding. Over the next three years, the BMBF will be providing more than 50 million euros for research projects to develop innovative production processes and products for the global market aimed at increasing resource and energy efficiency in production. "We are thus giving a clear political signal with regard to this important topic and are providing small and medium-sized enterprises with the necessary impulses for making their production processes more resource and energy efficient. In the long term, this funding priority will also help to secure the competitiveness and innovative strength of companies in Germany," Stöffler continued in his opening speech.
Manfred Wittenstein, President of the VDMA, praised this move in his welcoming speech: "By promoting research projects aimed at increasing efficiency in the field of production, the BMBF is giving a clear signal to the manufacturing industry that it should devote more attention to this important topic."
Experts from industry and science presented the latest results of their research in four parallel forums:
The accompanying exhibition also presented more than 60 examples from collaborative projects under the BMBF's framework concept "Research for Tomorrow's Production". These illustrated the variety and application orientation of research in the fields of mechatronics, technical logistics, forming technology, assembly, joining technology, production control, innovations to counter product piracy, and the integration of production and services.
More than 350 pupils and students took advantage of the opportunity to find out about career opportunities in the production sector at the conference's job fair, to establish contacts with potential employers in informal talks and to gain an insight into the working world of engineers. A free tour of the exhibition also gave them a comprehensive insight into the diversity of production research.
The Karlsruhe Working Talks also provided a terrific opportunity for young journalists. Participants in a workshop on scientific journalism attended the press conference, conducted independent research on exhibitors and interviewed high-calibre representatives of industry and science. On the basis of this background knowledge and under the supervision of experienced journalists, they then wrote their own articles for VDI-nachrichten, the on-line publication of the Association of German Engineers.
The articles by the young journalists can be found at the following link.
Further information is available at http://www.produktionsforschung.de/
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