Cluster of Excellence

  Hand assembles manufacturing symbolically as a puzzle Copyright: © Dr. Martin Riedel


Logo Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries  

Integrative Produktionstechnik für Hochlohnländer (Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries)


Key Info

Basic Information

01.11.2012 to 31.10.2017
Research Area:
Sociotechnical Systems and Human-Machine Interfaces

Further Information



Verena Nitsch

Institute Director


+49 241 80 99440




As part of the second round of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments to promote cutting-edge research at German universities and research institutes, funding has been approved for the follow-up application of the Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries" at RWTH Aachen University. This means that the first funding period (2006 to 2012) will be followed by a further period of five years during which the IAW – Institut für Arbeitswissenschaft (Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics) – will conduct research as part of the Excellence Initiative. In addition, the IAW presides over the sub-area "Selbstoptimierende Produktionssysteme" (Self-Optimizing Production Systems).


The motivation for the Cluster of Excellence lies in steadily increasing global competition. The aim of the Cluster is to find solutions to the question of under which conditions companies in high-wage countries like Germany can successfully develop and produce products, especially for high-volume markets. This solution requires a fundamentally new understanding of product and production technology interrelationships. The Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries" aims to develop a sustainable, production-science strategy and theory as well as the necessary technological approaches. With the Cluster of Excellence, the "Aachen House of Integrative Production Technology", which was successfully founded in the first phase, will be continued, thus bundling the production technology skills at RWTH Aachen University and, in particular, enabling the cooperation and integration of companies in the activities of the cluster.


The IAW is conducting research in the area of "Self-Optimizing Production Systems ". In the first phase of the funding, various approaches to self-optimization were investigated and corresponding algorithms developed. The second phase of the funding serves to transfer those results to socio-technical production networks. To overcome the challenges of these networks, adequate strategies, models and methods have to be developed and validated. Since humans have to be considered to be an integral part of these systems, the IAW focuses in particular on the interaction of humans and machines within these innovative structures. In this context, the ergonomic design of the workplace is of particular importance.


The methods used in this project include the use of anthropomorphic paths of motion for robots, for example. In addition, the assembly sequence in assembly processes is selected by a cognitive control unit so that it is comprehensible to humans. These two methods are used to make work processes transparent. Their use is intended to enable a better understanding of how the machine works.


Numerous insights have been gained in the field of human-machine interaction and human-robot collaboration (HRC). At the IAW, an HRC demonstration workstation was created on the basis of this research. The division of labor is designed so that an assembly management system guides the worker through an arbitrary assembly process stored in the system. In this process, a robotic arm hands over the next required components, such as screws, to increase the overall efficiency of the assembly process. With the aid of work process monitoring, the system is able to estimate the time required for each process step in order to carry out the handovers on a just-in-time basis. This reduces the workload on the operator and enables more effective machine utilization.


The Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries" is funded within the framework of the excellence initiative of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Project Partners

Research Partners
ACCESS e.V., RWTH Aachen, Professor Andreas Bührig-Polaczek
Forschungsinstitut für Rationalisierung (FIR) e. V., RWTH Aachen, Professor Günther Schuh
Foundry Institute (GI), RWTH Aachen, Professor Andreas Bührig-Polaczek
Surface Engineering Institute (IOT), RWTH Aachen, Professor Kirsten Bobzin
Institute of Metal Forming (IBF), RWTH Aachen, Professor Gerhard Hirt
Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV), RWTH Aachen, Professor Christian Hopmann
Department of Ferrous Metallurgy (IEHK), RWTH Aachen, Professor Wolfgang Bleck
Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics (IAW), RWTH Aachen, Professor Christopher Schlick
Welding and Joining Institute (ISF), RWTH Aachen, Professor Uwe Reisgen
Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA), RWTH Aachen, Professor Thomas Gries
Chair for Computational Analysis of Technical Systems (CATS), RWTH Aachen, Professor Marek Behr
Department of Mechanism Theory and Dynamics of Machines (IGM), RWTH Aachen, Professor Burkhard Corves
IMA/ZLW & IfU, RWTH Aachen

Institute for Scientific Computing (SC), RWTH Aachen, Professor Christian Bischof

Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT), RWTH Aachen, Professor Fritz Klocke, Professor Christian Brecher, Professor Rainer Schmitt, Professor Günther Schuh
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), RWTH Aachen, Professor Reinhart Poprawe, Professor Peter Loosen, Professor Wolfgang Schulz
HCIC, RWTH Aachen, Professor Martina Ziefle
Engineering Design (IKT), RWTH Aachen, Professor Jörg Feldhusen
Chair for Technology of Optical Systems (TOS), RWTH Aachen, Professor Peter Loosen

Chair for Laser Technology (LLT), RWTH Aachen, Professor Reinhart Poprawe

Department Nonlinear Dynamics of Laser Processing (NLD), RWTH Aachen, Professor Wolfgang Schulz
WZL Forum, RWTH Aachen, Kirstin Marso
Institute for Geometry And Practical Mathematics (IGPM), RWTH Aachen, Professor Wolfgang Dahmen
Institute for Automatic Control (IRT), RWTH Aachen, Professor Dirk Abel
Virtual Reality Center Aachen (VRCA), RWTH Aachen, Professor Torsten Kuhlen
Technology and innovation management group (TIM), RWTH Aachen, Professor Frank T. Piller
Aachen Entrepreneurship RWTH Aachen, Professor Brettel
Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), RWTH Aachen, Professor Christian Brecher (CEO)

Industrial Partners
Daimler AG
Festo AG & Co. KG
Ford Forschungszentrum Aachen GmbH
Robert Bosch GmbH
ThyssenKrupp Steel AG
Volkswagen Werkzeugbau Braunschweig
Logo DFG