it’s OWL – Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe

The “it‘s OWL—Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe” technology network is an alliance of around 200 companies and research institutions working on joint solutions for intelligent products and production methods in 47 projects. Among the winners of the Leading-Edge Cluster Competition run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), it’s Owl is regarded as one of the largest initiatives for industry 4.0. As a research partner, Fraunhofer IEM is involved in many of the projects, for instance Systems Engineering and Work 4.0. Moreover, Fraunhofer IEM advises the cluster management on matters of content and strategic focus.

Dual strategy for industry 4.0 in practice

The Ostwestfalen-Lippe region aims to be a lead provider and market for industry 4.0 solutions. The world market leaders for automation and drive technology in particular are developing highly practical solutions for industry 4.0 that are easy to integrate and bring significant improvements. Collaborating with industry partners, Fraunhofer IEM incorporates new technologies in commercial systems in order to develop industry 4.0 applications. Examples include self-optimizing punching and bending processes, resource-efficient industrial-scale laundries and intelligent separators.

Effective technology transfer for small-to medium-sized enterprises

By engaging in transfer projects, companies can use new technologies from the leading-edge cluster to resolve specific challenges in their operations in cooperation with a research institution. Application areas include intuitive user interfaces, connected machinery, intelligent control procedures and improved energy management. 170 transfer projects are being implemented in total, 73 of which have already been completed successfully. The response and feedback from the companies is excellent. For many of them, a transfer project provides initial access to the world of industry 4.0. Fraunhofer IEM prepared and implemented the transfer concept, and is entrusted with managing the ongoing projects.

Approaches to work in tomorrow’s world

The issue of how industry 4.0 will impact on the future of work is another important topic. To investigate the implications, model projects were put in place in six companies to foster cooperation between the board, production management, the HR department, employees, the works council and trades unions. Hettich, Miele, Phoenix Contact, Weidmüller and Wincor Nixdorf are the companies involved in the project. Among the issues on the agenda are the use of assistance systems, interactive robotics and technology acceptance. Aside from production, there will also be changes in the area of development, which Fraunhofer IEM is currently researching.

Driver of regional development

it’s OWL is a driving force behind the competitiveness of manufacturing industry in OWL and in doing so helps to create value and employment. The establishment of six new research institutions is a strong indication of the region’s innovative strength. The founding of Fraunhofer IEM as the first extramural research institution in OWL is a an important milestone for the region. Universities in the region are also placing a stronger focus on areas relating to intelligent technical systems. Reflecting this development, the number of students enrolled in MINT subjects has soared by 50% in the last five years, and 29 new degree programs have been added. This increases the visibility of OWL as a technology hub, and makes the region more attractive to specialists and executives.


Roman Dumitrescu

Contact Press / Media

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Roman Dumitrescu

Director Product Engineering

Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design IEM
Zukunftsmeile 1
33102 Paderborn

Phone +49 5251 5465-269