The "Maker Movement" is based on the principle that everyone can design, manufacture and distribute own products.
With the affordable access to special industrial high-tech manufacturing infrastructure, it is now even possible for individuals to be able to realize their product ideas quickly and easily.
The products are either locally made in so-called makerspaces, or through the use of decentralized and globally available manufacturing capacity easily orderd over the Internet.
Also in industry, the trend is becoming increasingly important.
The three drivers for the development of the maker movement are first that the “tools to innovate” like laboratory capacity, processing power, CAD programs, 3D printers for prototyping and simulation software are much more affordable today.
Second, individuals have nowadays access to a production infrastructure of industrial quality by example in FabLabs, and third, open databases allow the use of various designs and thus a much more efficient development process.
The research at the institute focuses on the impact of the maker movement on startups, SMEs as well as established firms
Increasing market volatility and uncertainty force manufacturing companies to adapt their operation model to a substantially changing environment.
For this reason it is necessary to anticipate volatility and deal with it proactively, and the agility concept can be seen as a key to thrive in such a challenging environment.
The principal idea is to mitigate risk in market downturns and to take advantage of opportunities in upturns to achieve superior long-term corporate performance.
Agility in manufacturing enables companies to prepare proactively for uncertainties and react quickly to changes to optimize the economic situation by leveraging the whole value chain.
It is important to view at the organization holistically to make agility work in industrial practice.
Besides implementing operational agility levers a change-affine culture has to be established and organizational structures and behavioral patterns in management need to be addressed as well.
The ongoing trend towards declining product life cycles and highly customized products leads in a drastic increase of models and variants.
Due to this fact a significant increase in production ramp-ups, which need to be performed not only more frequent but also at ever shorter times, can be observed across different industries.
As research findings show, for remaining competitive in todays highly dynamic industrial environment, many companies need to improve in the interdisciplinary field of ramp-up management.
This covers several activities between completion of product development and the stable production at a predefined output volume. Linked to this is a gradual increase of the output quantity in compliance with specified quality criteria and strict time constraints.
A holistic ramp-up management therefore includes all activities of planning, execution, monitoring and controlling of production ramp-ups, with the overall objectives of quality and cost control as well as a reduction of the ramp-up time required.
In the past, outsourcing of manufacturing dominated strategic decisions in high cost regions like Europe.
But since the economic crisis economies have realized the importance of industry and companies get offered benefits from the governments for bringing back manufacturing in certain fields. The aim is to strengthen the western economy.
Industry 4.0 is seen as a main enabler of this switchback of manufacturing. In order to persist in global competition new technologies, methods and business models are necessary.
The overall aims are to further increase efficiency of production and at the same time move towards batch size one production and offer specifically tailored products to customers all over the world.
The fourth industrial revolution tries to emphasize that with the application of so called cyber physical systems, communication in real time, data collection and analysis, the digital enterprise and a rash of assistance systems that help workers in the factories of the future to master more and more complex tasks.
Successful companies offer the right product, the right time at an appropriate price.
In consequence of accelerated changes in the business environment like customer requirements or available technologies is getting more and more difficult to fulfill the customer needs.
Product lifecycles are getting shorter and cause limited availability of time.
Furthermore complexity of product design and development processes is increasing, e.g. due to the necessity of integrating mechanical components, electronics and software.
Characteristic examples therefore are cyber physical systems as part of industry 4.0.
To meet upcoming challenges it is essential to avoid unnecessary external and internal complexity and to master unavoidable complexity.
Mastering of existing complexity needs an adjusted integration of technologies, methods and people in transdisciplinary product design and development teams.
Lean Management is a strategic management philosophy focused on elimination of all organizational and process activities that do not create additional value for the customer.
Some examples for the used methods are Just-in-Time, Kaizen, flow principle, total productive maintenance, the 5-S process, Kanban, and many more.
Since the financial crisis, many industries have to deal with increasing uncertainty and volatility. Thus, Lean Production has to be further developed to react on this changing environment to become more agile.
The research concentrates on the combination of Lean Production and Agile Manufacturing, especially on developing a process model on how to transform Lean Production to the next level and to integrate agile manufacturing.
Additionally, there is the possibility for companies to book Lean Production trainings in our learning factory. (IIM LEAD Factory)
Forthcoming doctoral theses on reseach focuses: