Transformation hub to enable SMEs to participate in digital ecosystems as part of supply chains of manufacturing companies

© Transfer-X

Utilising the full potential of lighthouse projects for digitisation throughout the industry

The Economic Stimulus Package 35c (Ger.: Konjunkturpaket 35c, also known as KoPa35c) is a multi-billion-euro funding program of the German government for the vehicle manufacturing and supplier industry. The funding program aims to successfully support the transformation processes towards digitalization, Industry 4.0, automation, and connectivity in order to further strengthen the competitiveness of the industry.

Within the scope of this program, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Ger.: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK) funds various research projects, including Catena-X, SDM4FZI, AdaProQ and AdDEDValue. In the projects, renowned partners from research and industry are working at full speed to develop and test new technologies and solutions, for example for

  • Collaborative use of data along the value chain,
  • virtual control of adaptive production systems, or
  • quality and efficiency enhancement in digitally connected and adaptive process chains.

Transfer-X consolidates the results and findings of these pioneering research projects and thus ensures a rapid transfer of knowledge from research to practice. Within the scope of Transfer-X, information is holistically processed, bundled, and transferred so that the results can deploy their full potential in industry.

Transfer-X as an enabler for the transfer of applications and knowledge to small and medium-sized enterprises

Transfer-X enables companies to take up research results, adapt them to their individual environment and transfer them into their business practice.

In order to make research results more accessible to companies, a transformation hub in the form of a knowledge platform is being created in Transfer-X. The aim of Transfer-X is to make the results of the KoPa35c research projects available on this platform in a comprehensible and freely available form. The focus is on a holistic view of all topics that are necessary for the cross-company digitalisation of supply chains.

By using various media and transfer formats, the knowledge from the research projects should be conveyed. The knowledge is organized into transfer paths that represent practical user journeys and are tailored to specific topics, industries, and company roles. Each transfer path is made up of individual, combinable transfer modules that represent the various topics and convey the research results in a pedagogically meaningful and user-related manner (see illustration).

The companies are further supported by the organization of additional exchange formats such as expert rounds and workshop discussions, the formulation of best practices in transfer, and the accompaniment of transformation projects. For small and medium-sized enterprises, this practical communication is essential in order to quickly understand the results of the research and integrate them into their own processes.

© Copyright Transfer-X

Project Description

Transfer-X primarily answers strategic questions of the companies on technical topics, including:

  • How can digitalization contribute to making a SME more resilient against unexpected disruptions in the supply chains?
  • What requirements must an SME's IT architecture have in order to be part of a digital ecosystem such as Catena-X?
  • What added value do digital ecosystems offer in the context of digital transformation, such as in the calculation of the CO2 footprint of a component?
  • What added value do digital ecosystems offer in the context of digital transformation, such as in the sovereign exchange of data in terms of available capacities in the production and logistics network?
  • How can an SME make use of the benefits of a digital ecosystem?

For these and other questions, the results and insights from the KoPa35c project use cases will be extracted and modularized. These transfer modules will be processed along the following three dimensions to generate user-specific transfer paths:

  1. Theme block: Onboarding to a digital ecosystem, calculating CO2 footprint, etc.
  2. Company size: SME, large company, etc.
  3. User level: CEO, technical staff, etc.

The transfer paths represent the most important information for a specific use case by bundling several transfer modules and provide a guideline for the practical use of research results. In this way, the transfer paths and modules support knowledge building and provide guidance for targeted implementation for the end user.

To align transfer modules and paths with the needs of the end users, they are tested early on as prototype results in several iterations by SMEs. To get in contact with the companies for these "agile breakthroughs," Mittelstand-Digital Centers, Digital Hubs, and Chamber of Commerce and Industry are involved as multipliers. By collecting best practices, additional support is provided for the implementation of transformation projects.

Role of Fraunhofer IML in the project

In Transfer-X, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics takes a leading role in testing the working results by SMEs in the form of agile breakthroughs and obtaining feedback that is critical to success. Due to our expertise in preparing research in an application-oriented form, we are able to translate the contents of the research projects into comprehensible transfer modules for industry. Furthermore, Fraunhofer IML uses its experience from the industry projects to integrate industry requirements and feedback into the transfer modules. Through the agile breakthroughs, we enable feedback from industry to flow into the transfer modules and the general transfer concept. In addition, we provide an important link to SMEs through our close contact with multipliers, especially the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ruhr-OWL, the Mittelstand-Digitalzentrum Hamburg and the Digital Hub Logistics. This fosters the early exchange and comparison of preliminary results and accelerates the propagation of our output in the SME network.

Consortium partner of Transfer-X

  • Fraunhofer Society for the Advancement of Applied Research e.V. FHG
    • Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML
    • Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU
    • Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB / Industrial Automation branch INA
    • Fraunhofer Academy
  • German Aerospace Center e.V. DLR
  • ARENA2036 e.V.
  • Catena-X Automotive Network e.V.
  • Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Amberg-Weiden OTH-AW
  • Automotive Agentur Niedersachsen AANds
© Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz