Zukunftsallianz, the “Future Alliance”

‘Zukunftsallianz’, the “Future Alliance”, is geared to making mechanical engineering companies fit for ‘Industry 4.0’

The German mechanical engineering industry cannot rest on its laurels. The sector is facing enormous challenges. Not only is pressure from global competition – above all, Asia – continuing to rise. In addition, issues such as demographic developments, altered customer requirements and greater flexibility and individuality require responses from the mechanical engineering sector and innovative, technological solutions. The ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau’ (Future Alliance for the Mechanical Engineering Industry), which was founded in April at the ‘Hannover Messe’ trade fair, is primarily endeavouring to make small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the mechanical engineering and industrial automation technology sectors fit for ‘Industry 4.0’ and for global competition.

The ‘Zukunftsallianz’ management: Dr. Volker Franke (left) is the executive spokesperson of ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau’ and Gerald Pörschmann its Managing Director

The ‘Zukunftsallianz’ management: Dr. Volker Franke (left) is the executive spokesperson of ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau’ and Gerald Pörschmann its Managing Director.

Twenty-four system suppliers, research institutes and engineering and consulting partners from the mechanical engineering industry currently belong to the ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau e.V.’ innovation network. With the formation of a northern cluster north of Frankfurt, stretching from Aachen in western Germany to Dresden in the east and as far as the coast in the north, we are pursuing a purely pragmatic system definition. Around 2,000 companies are located in the economic area described above which account for some 40% of value creation in German mechanical engineering.

With the “Integrative production technology for high-wage countries” excellence cluster in Aachen, the Ruhr logistics and Eastern Westphalia-Lippe Intelligent Technical Systems leading-edge clusters as well as the outstanding Fraunhofer institutes in Magdeburg and Chemnitz, production technology research commands the transfer potential required for a sustainable innovation network.

We at ‘Allianz Maschinenbau’ are following the markets and the rapid changes that are occurring. Consequently, we are very familiar with the problems and challenges facing companies in the mechanical engineering industry. Our members include the HARTING Technology Group, Kienbaum as well as Dassault Systèmes from France as a European digital engineering partner. VW is also indirectly represented through the Robotation Academy, a cooperation project between the Hannover Messe and VW.

The ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau’ is seeking to overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles – such as ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies, for example – together with the SMEs. Our aim is to support companies that do not have in-house departments for such strategic tasks at their disposal. By organising conferences with top-class line-ups and dialogue workshops, we are seeking to implement a regular exchange of knowledge and experience by adopting the maxim “learn from the best.” We hope this provides us with the opportunity to enter into discussion with other pioneers in technological change in order to attract further enablers from amongst system suppliers and research partners to the network.

By Dr. Volker Franke, executive spokesperson of ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau’ and Gerald Pörschmann, Managing Director of ‘Zukunftsallianz Maschinenbau’