Networking is the key

By placing its money on networking between leading world market manufacturers, research institutes and regional SMEs, the PROFACTOR multidisciplinary competence centre in the upper Austrian province of Steyr is giving a new impetus to the local economy and employment.

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Upper Austrian Know-How Upper Austrian Know-How

Background

In the early 1990s the demise of its largest employer turned the city of Steyr, with its long history of manufacturing and steelmaking, into a crisis region. Through the publicly sponsored project work of the FAZAT-Steyr agency a new pillar of employment was created, centred on industrial research. A major contribution to improving the economic and employment situation in the region was also made by the Association for the Promotion of Modernisation of Production Technologies in Austria (Vereinigung zur Förderung der Modernisierung der Produktionstechnologien in Österreich - VPTÖ) This organization supports and stimulates high quality industrial research and the development and introduction of new production concepts and technologies. PROFACTOR was founded in 1995 as its not-for-profit subsidiary for basic research.

Multidisciplinary solutions

The results of PROFACTOR’s research projects are put directly to use in member companies through applied research. Results are disseminated and technology transferred by through symposia and other information events. PROFACTOR’s scientists have developed an extensive network of links with leading world market manufacturers and other research institutes as well as a whole range of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The PROFACTOR II project continues the 1st extension phase, with research concentrated on creating new systems to provide multidisciplinary solutions to highly complex problems.

This objective is embodied in three research areas:

1. Holistic Engineering

2. Quality Controlled Production

3. Enterprise Integration Systems

Starting from holistic principles, Holistic Engineering is seeking to meet the demand for ever shorter process and product development times in a context of rising technical and quality specifications, as well as optimise the productivity and sustainability of existing production systems. Research focuses on topics like simulation-supported planning/optimisation and renewable energy systems.

Quality Controlled Production is seeking to boost product and plant efficiency with new measuring methods and sensor systems. In many cases this involves developing new assessment methods. Focal points are complex high speed processing, robot vision, in-line measurement and inspection systems for quality assurance, and process control.

New software development methods are reducing development leadtimes. Enterprise Integration Systems is aiming to transfer these methods to control and automation systems so as to cut development leadtimes. Focal points are multi-agent systems, integrated company management, supply chain management and domain-neutral configuration systems.

Results

By pooling creative energies and complementing the know-how available in Upper Austria with that of globally operating scientists and engineers, a new strategic and operating momentum is being created throughout the local production fabric. In so doing the region’s overall identity as a “producer” is being extended beyond the simple production of hardware to embrace the whole range of entrepreneurial functions, from product development to organization and communication and from process development and production through to specialist marketing in the segments that are relevant for Upper Austria.

The activity of a multidisciplinary team of researchers and Profactor's specific solution-seeking approach based on a broad range of competences are helping produce a shift from a resource-based to a knowledge-based industry.

Over a ten-year period projects have been carried through from basic industrial research to applied research and to technology transfer at both national and international levels. The fact of including a large number of industrial partners in these projects has set in train and supported a corresponding transfer of know-how into local industry (in particular SMEs).


Draft date

01/02/2006