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Industry 4.0: Hamburg’s aviation industry at discussions in Brussels

05.10.2017News about Hamburg Aviation

At a parliamentary evening in the Hanse Office, experts explored opportunities and risks for the next "industrial revolution" in discussion with representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The Minister for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation, the Hanse Office (joint representation of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein in Brussels) and Hamburg Aviation jointly invited around 60 decision-makers from the political and commercial spheres in Brussels to gather on 25 September to look at THE future project of European aviation. Amongst those attending were MEP Reinhard Buetikofer, Dr Sebastiano Fumero, Head of the European Commission's Aviation Unit, and repreresentatives of Clean Sky and the Hamburg state ministries responsible for mobility and growth.  Senator Frank Horch, Minister for the Economy, delivered an address to open the evening.

Preparing for digitalisation together

"Industry 4.0" is more than just a buzzword. A massive collaborative effort by industry, educational institutions and the political sphere in Hamburg is powerfully driving the digitalisation and automation of the aerospace industry forward, now and for the years to come. The goal is to equip Hamburg for the new challenges it will faced in a digitalised global market, and to strengthen Hamburg's innovative potential in a lasting way.

Systems are becoming more intelligent, labourers are being supported in their work through human-machine interaction, and processes are getting faster. Additive manufacturing and the increased use of robotics can drastically accelerate production and diagnosis processes in aviation. Since March 2016, research has been carried out into these fields, and the results of that research put into practical application, at the ZAL Center for Applied Aeronautical Research. Andreas Fehring, Head of Production at Airbus in Hamburg and a member of the Executive Board for Airbus Deutschland, addressed the gathering, explaining the enormous innovative and financial resources that Airbus is pouring into this "smart factory". An existing hangar in Finkenwerder, Hamburg is currently being modified to serve as a 4th final assembly plant with the latest technological facilities. The opening of the assembly line on 23 November is eagerly awaited; Industry 4.0 will be seen in action here.

Dr Mark Nicklas, Head of the Innovation and Investment for Growth Unit at the European Commission, then explained the EU's industrial policy strategy, which was published on 13 September.

It takes bundled innovative capacity to prepare an industry for the future. Surrounded by the European spirit in Brussels, a panel discussed such topics as the significance of European collaboration as we move into the next industrial age. The panel discussion was moderated by the Cluster Manager, Dr Franz Josef Kirschfink, assisted by ZAL's Managing Director Roland Gerhards and MEP Reinhard Buetikofer (Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen). The participants agreed that the often protracted process of approving grants is problematic. By the time funds are released for Industry 4.0 projects, the concepts are often already obsolete.

Personnel 4.0 for the challenges in the job market

Industry 4.0 in aviation needs Personnel 4.0: The speakers all agreed that a lot of attention must be paid to preparing personnel for the new challenges ahead. Emphasis was placed on the necessity of lifelong education and training, particularly for SMEs, so that experienced personnel are not left behind, intimidated and unsettled by the new technologies. The Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training (HCAT) is dedicated to precisely this need, preparing qualified specialists for an increasingly digitalised world of work. In the "DigiNet.Air" project, in which HCAT plays the role of network coordinator, suppliers are supported as they undertake digital transformation; new formats and content combine to create a sustainable exchange of knowledge and technology between the education/training and commercial spheres.

The interest that exists in this topic could also be seen in the networking conversations after the event, which went on late into the evening.

The event enabled the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and players in the cluster to make their position regarding "Production 4.0 in Aerospace" clear for the European political actors. Efforts are being made to establish ongoing communication at the EU level.

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