The Chairman of the Steinbeis Board of Trustees has been honored by Esslingen University of Applied Sciences. Dr. Leonhard Vilser has been granted honorary membership of the university. The university rector Prof. Dr. Christian Maercker awarded the 65-year-old chairman an official certificate in front of guests from the world of business, science and politics. The former university council member was described as an “important friend, partner and supporter” of the university. Leonhard Vilser has been a member of the Steinbeis Board of Trustees since 2001 and its chairman since 2011.
“A university’s life is strongly influenced by its supporters,” said Christian Maercker in his official speech. “Mr. Vilser has had connections with the university going back 23 years. So it is particularly special to us to honor him in this way.” Dr. Leonhard Vilser was a member of the university council for six years and he was deputy chairman of the Association of Friends for 15 years.
Honorary membership is an award that can be bestowed upon important figures who are not directly active at the university. The award honors exceptional services that have helped promote the development of the university. Under state university statutes, an honorary membership is valued on a par with honorary citizenship.
Leonhard Vilser studied mechanical engineering at Munich University of Applied Sciences and machine engineering at Kaiserslautern University of Technology before earning a doctorate in engineering at Stuttgart University. In his early career, he worked for Wacker-Chemie AG and was an academic assistant at Stuttgart University. Between 1979 and entering retirement in 2014, he worked as an engineer for J. Eberspächer GmbH & Co KG in Esslingen.
In 1998 he was appointed director of vehicle heaters. This involved overall responsibility for the business division including all subsidiaries worldwide. In parallel to this position, he shared responsibility as managing director of three further subsidiaries.
Over and above his honorary duties at the university in Esslingen, Vilser was chairman of the Working Committee for Research, Engineering and Education at the Baden-Württemberg state association of industry (LVI).
Networking creates synergies and bolsters competitiveness – something that many small and medium-sized enterprises have recognized in Baden- Württemberg, motivating them to join business clusters and networks throughout the state. To help these regional initiatives and networks function more professionally, the Baden- Württemberg Ministry of Finance and Economy has launched a new agency called ClusterAgentur Baden-Württemberg. Steinbeis is a member of the alliance which will implement the activities of the agency.
Over the next three years, the new agency will help promote business cluster development in strategic areas of growth and industries, providing advice on managing clusters and networks to support new initiatives and SMEs involved in networking. The agency will be headquartered in the Haus der Wirtschaft (house of commerce) in Stuttgart.
Partners of the project in Baden-Württemberg are the engineering associations VDI and VDE-IT, Baden-Württemberg international (bw-i) and Steinbeis. They will work together in the ClusterAgentur to raise the visibility of cluster initiatives as a driver of innovation and help them become established as a powerful instrument of technology transfer. One of the agency’s central goals is to involve more SMEs in business clusters.
Steinbeis will use its know-how to manage activities relating to the ability of SMEs to innovate. The action plan includes “cross-clustering” to improve collaboration between clusters, strengthening of technology transfer between different companies in business clusters, technology scouting, innovation matching and training for cluster managers. Other areas of activity for the agency will relate to helping to raise the profile of clusters, helping to make cluster management more professional and fostering the internationalization of business clusters.
In September, stw unisono training+consulting and Alkyone Consulting GmbH & Co. KG organized the second TOC Congress in Stuttgart. The auditorium at Steinbeis headquarters was filled to the last seat. The day revolved around the presentation of a customer project and six workshops looking at the topic of bottleneck management, or in technical terms: Theory of Constraints (TOC).
The day started with Paul Seifriz introducing the fundamentals of TOC and how it is implemented within a company. Joachim Schneider, TOC project manager at Atlanta GmbH & Co. KG (Bietigheim-Bissingen), then added his views from a user standpoint, explaining how his company has applied TOC principles since 2014 and enjoyed extraordinary success with them. After the talk, delegates were invited to three out of six workshops that took place in parallel. The workshops examined ways to establish a general framework in order to fulfill key TOC prerequisites within a business.
Alongside quality management and lean production, TOC belongs to a trio of current management philosophies. First developed in the 1980s by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, it is based on the fundamental physical principle that in any chain there is only one weakest link. Relating this weakest link to the company or a process chain can thus influence throughput and performance, or even company profits. At first glance, the approach seems to contrast with classic CIP principles which involve trying to make improvements throughout the company, but TOC focuses primarily on the bottlenecks.
Simply introducing TOC rules and implementing the TOC software within a company can already reduce errors to nearly 0%, increase throughput times by nearly 70% and cut stocks by 50% while raising delivery reliability to 99%. This results in a business that has been reinvented and which is based on transparency.
To bolster the sharing of knowledge between science and academia on the one hand and business on the other, the Institute for Transfer Technologies and Integrated Systems (SITIS, a Karlsruhe-based Steinbeis Transfer Center) is embarking on a series of events going by the title “Business Dialogue with the University: Away from the Daily Routine!” The aim is to examine a multitude of topics relating to production technology. The starting shot was fired in October 2014 with the first event, which looked at “Human Factors in the Production Process” and “Away from the Daily Routine – Toward Safeguarding Competitiveness.”
A variety of managers at small and medium-sized enterprises were invited. In a speech given by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rüdiger Haas, director of SITIS and a professor at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, people and their skills in the workplace were examined as a key factor within the direct environment of production processes. The sorts of questions that came from the audience in the discussion after the talk were: “What can one do about older workers who don’t understand the new production technologies, and how can we get them to work with younger workers?” or “How can I motivate my co-workers to try out more things with machines and not be constantly worried about breaking something?”
In his speech, Dr. Heinz Schäfer then turned to the issue of securing competitiveness, drawing on his many years of experience as a business consultant with examples directly related to business. He appealed for regular checks of companies’ key indicators and continuous improvement in business processes. Taking an analytical approach to work enables a company to be independent in the long term and to safeguard its future.
After the two speeches, the discussion that had already got underway was continued in separate groups. The majority of companies at the event made it clear that there is a dearth of engineers and specialists at small and medium-sized companies. This is exacerbated by the highly specialist nature of the requirements workers face on machines, especially when dealing with the very latest production technology. The reaction is the same among young and old workers: they are all worried about pushing machines beyond their limits. One way to counteract this is to see mistakes at work as an opportunity to learn. The contributions of delegations resulted in lively discussion and a number of topics were identified for future events.
Products seek Producer (PsP) is an innovative series of events designed to showcase new products and processes spanning a variety of different technology fields under one roof. The inventors of new product concepts can rub shoulders with idea seekers and look for a specific kind of partner. The events are run by Infothek, a Steinbeis Transfer Center.
“We’ve already invested major sums of money to take part in trade shows but we weren’t always at the right events. With ‘Products seek Producer’ the firms and inventors at the event are always in the same industry. That really simplifies communication and we get to launch more quickly,” explains Hubert Roth, CEO of EKM-Roth GmbH, who took his company to a PsP exhibition with a slant toward precision engineering, which took place in Pforzheim on October 24, 2014. To coincide with the exhibition, specialists gave talks on precision engineering and funding options.
The demands placed on mechanical engineering are becoming increasingly intensive and as the field becomes more and more specialized, there is a need for different ways to foster innovation to promote rapid technology sharing. This will be the main topic of the subsequent PsP, which, like the others, is all about concept exploitation: The Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce (IHK) will showcase new products and processes related to mechanical engineering on January 23, 2015 under the motto “Patented Ideas seek Partners, Producers and Sales Partners.” The aim will be to give visitors to the exhibition an opportunity to talk part in presentations on current trends in the industry.
InnovateBW is a training program with a focus on entrepreneurship. It is aimed at people undergoing training, students and business founders, who can receive professional support with their technology ideas in an environment with a strong bearing on business. They can also receive training on drafting a business model and creating first prototypes. The program is being offered by bwcon, an enterprise in the Steinbeis Network.
However, InnovateBW is more than just an initiative for students and (would-be) entrepreneurs. Its services are also available to established companies. This is because participants on the program define the areas that are looked at, so they have an opportunity to include issues facing their company. This allows them to gain access to specialists in MINT areas, entrepreneurs, new concepts and state-ofthe- art technology.
In an “open innovation process” lasting 6 months, the concepts of the young innovators are placed before a jury. Market players and experts provide feedback on ideas that make it to the next round. Once they get this far, there is a business training camp and a pitch to business partners. The jury then whittles projects down to 10 finalists from whom four winning projects are chosen at the final awards ceremony. Apart from plenty of good advice from the experts, the winners stand to win an award of Euro 10,000. Companies interested in becoming involved in the new initiative are welcome to contact bwcon.
A high honor has been bestowed upon Dr. Juwon Soh, project manager at the Steinbeis Technology & Innovation Center – Republic of Korea (STIC). He was awarded the honor – a presidential distinction for exceptional services to the electronics industry – at the 9th IT and Electronics Day in Seoul on October 14, 2014.
The IT and Electronics Day was first staged in 2005 to coincide with electronics and IT exports hitting the 100 billion Korean wons mark. Ever since, the award has been bestowed on individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the development of the electronics industry.
In 2014, the honor was awarded to DY EZtech, Korea Sprite, JY GNTm COWAY and the Steinbeis Technology & Innovation Center – Republic of Korea (STIC). All companies were honored for their innovative work in the field of product and technology development. The Steinbeis Technology & Innovation Center was honored for its support with the commercialization of public technology, services to technology transfer and advice on marketing strategies. Special mention was given to the center’s training in global technology commercialization aimed at developing innovation skills in the Korean IT and electronics industry.