Innovation Factory: Develop in a place where visions become true
Our team has been doing research and development in the Innovation Factory at RWTH Aachen since May. The idea for this special workshop comes from another Aachen visionary. For us it offers everything to investigate the basic way of working of our platform in agile work processes - and to come a step closer to our vision.
Sometimes there is a parallel between a vision and a baby: The first steps are most often a bit shaky. Sometimes you fall down, you get up, you fall again - until you succeed.
Falling down, getting up, continuing. That is what most engineers and scientists recognize who are active in Research & Development, like us. What seems simple on paper is often an unnerving process. Each detail needs to fit, each parameter needs to be defined precisely.
When you have the basic idea, and the sophisticated concept is yet missing, there is one important principle: investigate and try as much as you can. For us this means to work in agile work processes. This is made possible by the Innovation Factory of RWTH Aachen, a visionary innovation centre, established to meet all needs of enterprises to break up existing structures and to reinvent themselves.
This means exactly: Here, in the Innovation Factory, we design and develop building components for the channels of our platform to steer plastic to where we can get it out. These components are then tested at the RWTH Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management in the flow channel. But we can also generate currents and test ideas in the small channel environment at the Innovation Factory. One example is that we let small plastic parts flow into the current where they meet air bubbles at a certain point in time that are meant to bring them to the surface. We analyse what happens to build on for further studies.
A place to create new things
The unique ecosystem of Innovation factory is for us a lucky case. The bright rooms with the high ceilings are set up in such a way that they offer space and rest for creativity and at the same time enough space for various simultaneously operating work groups. The work benches are simple but offer a highly modern equipment with all required technologies, tools and machinery.
Dr. Tilman Flöhr, who leads our Research& Development department, also sees a big gain for PGS in the Innovation Factory, because their team is independent and not banking on others. „The innovation process does not follow a strict hierarchy and order”, he says. „It lives from agility and constructive trial and error methods to develop concepts and primo types in a deliberate way.“
So to produce water currents, throw plastic parts into it and look what happens – you can do this also in your home aquarium, can’t you? “Not for long”, says Flöhr: „In the course of the innovation process the requirements on the needed technology increase. If at the beginning maybe a simple workshop is sufficient, at a later stage complex manufacturing and test technologies are required. This paves the way for the platform that is meant to float one day on rivers of this world.“
Think big, start small – and come out big at the end: This is what amongst other things Günter Schuh ,professor at RWTH Aachen and founder of Innovations Factory, achieved with his e- cars “ e.Go Life“ and “e.Go Mover“. Today the successful models are produced in series. Professor Schuh has achieved what many start-ups dream of. The fact that we may now doe development in his workshops and make use of the expertise of his team is a big motivator for us to go for our goal.