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KIT establishing institue to help combustion-engine SMEs re-orient to e-mobility; Fit4E

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is establishing a “Transformation Hub Electric Mobility” to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) with specialized knowledge in the process chain for manufacturing a combustion engine re-orient for electric mobility. The hub is funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg with €2.6 million.

The Fit4E project of the Transformation Hub Electric Mobility is to help companies identify own strengths and competencies. Together, we will then identify the overlap with electromobility technology and the use case for adopting the new process chains.

—Professor Jürgen Fleischer of KIT’s Institute of Production Science (wbk)

The Transformation Hub will first launch the framework project “Fit4E” and two lighthouse projects scheduled for a duration of two years each. Upon establishment of the future “Karlsruhe Research Factory,” the hub will be connected with it.

Fit4E directly addresses machine and plant engineers in Baden-Württemberg, said project coordinator Janna Hofmann of wbk. These companies mostly are world market leaders in their process step that still is part of the “old” process chain for the combustion engine only.

We will organize training courses at the hub and help the companies find out how they can use their skills and competencies in the production chain of an electromobile drive train as well.

—Janna Hofmann

The “AgiloBat” lighthouse project is to establish a modular plant for manufacturing battery cells on the pilot scale that responds flexibly to changes of numbers of pieces and formats.

The smallest modular unit, the “Smart Battery Maker,” is a production robot for process steps such as coating and drying or separation and stacking that does not need any big infrastructures, such as large drying rooms.

With their expertise in precision engineering, SMEs are often better prepared for the process than they think. KIT said. Three working groups of KIT cooperate in this project, the Thin Film Technology Group of the Institute of Thermal Process Engineering, the Energy Storage Systems Group of the Institute for Applied Materials, and the wbk group. A group of Fraunhofer ICT has joined the project.

The lighthouse project “Training Factory for Stator Manufacture” works together with the corresponding vocational schools in Karlsruhe and addresses trainees. A training and teaching concept is developed, with the manufacture of hair pins for stators being used as an example. It is based on existing process modules of the “AnStaHa” project that focuses on the flexible production of electric motors.

2019_013_Elektromobilitaet_bestehende Kompetenzen nutzen

Competencies in highly precise mechanical engineering are required for producing the hair pin windings of the stator of an electric motor. (Photo: Felix Wirth, KIT)

At the training factory, trainees are to learn how to manufacture an electric drive, which is not always possible at the company where they work.

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