4. Fraunhofer-Alumni-Summit 2019

The Alumni Summit 2019 will take place on 20 November 2019 in Berlin on the topic of Artificial Intelligence.

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Events for Fraunhofer-Alumni

Exclusive events or free trade fair tickets - benefit from special conditions as a Fraunhofer Alumni!

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Mentoring - A new programme for Alumni

As a member of Alumni e.V. you are invited to get involved as a mentor or within the framework of an industrial partnership for young start-ups. Are you planning to start your own business? Accompany a young team or get started with exciting Fraunhofer technologies! Information and contacts can also be found in our Fraunhofer Alumni Portal.

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Since 2016, the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. has been offering an international network for experts with many advantages and a constantly growing range of services across industries and disciplines.

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Alumni-Spotlight - Dr. Nils Klingbeil

"With our approach, we help the topic of electromobility to advance in great steps!" The Fraunhofer-IPT alumnus Dr. Nils Klingbeil has been supporting the young automotive manufacturer and electric pioneer e.GO Mobile AG since last year.

"Electromobility for everyone"

© Privat
Dr. Nils Klingbeil
© e.GO Mobile
e.GO Life
© e.GO Mobile AG
e.GO Mover

The aim of the young Aachen-based company e.GO Mobile AG is to make electromobility affordable. A highly motivated team around the professor and entrepreneur Günther Schuh from Aachen has set its mind on achieving what large German automotive manufacturers and contenders such as Tesla have failed to do so far: Holistic electric mobility concepts for the average earner. One main focus of this strategy lies in the production and in innovative development concepts. And wherever there is so much esprit, a Fraunhofer alumnus is sure to be not far away. We talked to Dr. Nils Klingbeil, formerly from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, about his new activity in Expert Research at e.GO Mobile AG and congratulate Mr. Klingbeil on his successful promotion!

Mr. Klingbeil, electric vehicles play almost no role at all on Germany's roads. How did you become involved in electric cars?

It more or less arose from my personal motivation: Since my childhood, vehicles have always been on my mind. I am sure that anyone who knows me would agree when I say that going to an automotive manufacturer was a logical step for me. e.GO came up at just the right time, and the philosophy suits me well: The focus must always be on the customer. The automotive industry is far too involved in competition and no longer sets the customer in focus. What is the point of squeezing out the last micrometer in the gap dimensions at an enormous expense in development and production costs, if this leads to additional costs for the consumer? Basically, all the consumer wants is a good and safe car. So we need to concentrate on production technology. And at e.GO Mobile AG, the aim is to actually do things differently.

What is so special about it?

For one, we are not approaching our target of affordable electromobility from the design side. And secondly, we are not developing a vehicle to then build it in series. As production specialists, we turn it around and look at it from the other side. We are looking at how to produce a vehicle as cost-effectively as possible. While the spaceframe, among some other things, is built by us, we purchase most of the other components. An Italian designer is responsible for the appearance of the vehicles.

At the moment, Tesla is setting the trends in electromobility. The small start-up company e.GO from Aachen, however, is introducing affordable electric cars to the market. Have the big German automotive manufacturers missed out on this trend?

That is a question that everyone must answer for themselves. Like everybody else, I'm not sure if we all missed out on something. Let us take the Tesla Model S, for example. This American manufacturer boosted electromobility - no doubt. However, you need to take a second look: So far, only top earners can afford these and similar vehicles. What's more, these cars may be really fast, but they are not particularly efficient. Nevertheless, they do have a relatively high range.

For me, answering your question first and foremost means defining the goals we wants to achieve: We want a city car that is not too fast and does not necessarily have to have a range of 500 kilometers. For example, we are positioning our e.GO Life as a typical second car. This also enables us to create an affordable electric car.

With e.GO we have simply taken a different direction. Effectively there have been numerous developments in electric drives from the large German carmakers. However, they have also taken a more cautious approach to the issue. What we did could have been done by any of these manufacturers. But they obviously did not want to. I am convinced that with our vehicle and our approach, we will significantly advance the topic of electromobility.

What do you do differently from the traditional automotive manufacturers?

We, for instance, do without pressing plants, as they are extremely expensive. Instead, we rely on an aluminium spaceframe for the vehicle. And we also do not have catalytic dip-painting, which is required in conventional vehicle engineering, in our production. This enabled us to build our first plant with a comparatively small investment. And we can therefore pass this price advantage on to the consumer.

In short, traditional production lines cost much more! But doesn't that consequentially also entail restrictions?

We currently have plants 1 and 2, and will soon be building a third one for the e.GO Mover. The Mover is a new concept design. It is roughly the size of a microbus and can transport up to 15 people.

We are Germany's youngest OEM, so we are real manufacturer, not just a bespoke carmaker. But in comparison to other manufacturers, we only build in small series. We have a cycle time of 10 minutes and intend to produce 10,000 of our small electric vehicles – the e.GO Life – within 12 months in single-shift operation.

Basically, we are going for the Low Capex approach. In plant 1, where the Life is assembled, the degree of automation is low and the employees assemble the car at 29 stations. In plant 2, we build the spaceframe in robot-supported, automated operation. The entire production is digitized and complies with Industry 4.0. This gives us the agility to quickly change over to other derivates. At the same time, it also enables us to give the customers a high level of individualism at an affordable price.

© Fraunhofer ESK
The Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. invites you to Munich on the topic "E-Mobility, Connected Cars & Autonomous Driving". The Alumni Association of the University of St. Gallen, the HSG Alumni Club Munich and the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. will jointly organize this conference at the headquarters of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The Fraunhofer ESK and Fraunhofer AISEC also participate. Information and registration under:
© e.GO Mobile AG
A station in the assembly-line of the model e.GO Life in the Aachen facility.
© e.GO Mobile
The company e.GO Mobile tailors the development of the vehicles so that they can be produced as cost-effectively as possible without sacrificing quality.

What is the idea behind the new Mover concept?

The Mover is a smaller electric microbus, which we will be introducing to the market next year. It will be available as a Level 0 version without any assistance systems whatsoever, and as a Level 4, highly automated model. We will start production with the Movers that are not highly automated.

Parralel to vehicle development, we are investing in on-demand services that are similar in structure to Uber. For instance, a user could order a Mover as a shuttle via app and would then no longer be bound by timetables. We are therefore primarily working together with local authorities to generally redesign mobility; for example, with mobility hubs. Here, concepts along the lines of air taxis are already being considered. Actually, an abundance of different ideas are currently in discussion and are being pursued in the research field. And digital networking and new networks, such as 5G, are opening up many more options for digital services.

Nevertheless, vehicles still remain the core topic of the company?

In addition to the various vehicle models, we also want to further diversify at e.GO Digital GmbH. We expect digital driving will also be opening up a variety of possibilities for added value. If you don't have to concentrate so much on the actual driving task in the future, what will people be doing in the resulting spare time? New services will emerge. We do not offer most of them at the moment, but we are already working on them.

What about the range-issue?

This is really the crux of the matter in electromobility! There are still quite a few open issues here. The comparatively low range and the question as to how the batteries are charged are still having a negative influence on the acceptance threshold and impeding the spreading of electromobility. Many providers rely on leasing models for their batteries. In our case, the battery belongs to the customer.

But simply installing larger ion-lithium batteries is not the solution, since this results in other disadvantages such as a higher weight or higher prices. At the moment, our cars are available from € 15,900. We would have to do a great deal of streamlining to achieve this price and offer longer ranges.

Are there alternatives to lithium-ion batteries?

We are currently working with e.GO REX GmbH on a range extender fuel cell. This fuel cell system does not power the vehicle directly, rather it charges the battery. This enables the system to be quickly implemented into existing vehicles. It also has the advantage that fuel cell vehicles – similar to cars driving on fossil fuel – can be quickly refuelled. At the same time, it provides an emission-free, low-noise, high performance capacity.

The fuel cell has been in discussion since the mid-nineties.

Yes, in fact that is when the fuel cell technology made great waves. But I think that Jules Verne was right more than 100 years ago when he said: »Water is the new coal«. But this technology still has to take a few hurdles that partly lie in production technology. The combustion engine has been through 100 years of development time. The development of new battery technologies such as the solid state batteries, for instance, is a long and expensive process. Just give us a little more time and your trust.

Does the combustion engine still stand a chance in the coming years?

As a living room table? Of course! But seriously now, gas and diesel engines will not disappear all of a sudden. That is not necessary either. We think mixed options such as hybrids are currently an excellent solution. As already mentioned, it is our aim to be emission-free locally. For longer distances it is possible to switch to other means of transport, including vehicles with combustion engines, such as hybrids. Over the coming years, the number of combustion engines will surely continue to fall, but that will not happen all of a sudden. This transition will probably take a few decades.

Why is Aachen a good place for electric vehicles?

As a producer, all I can say is: If not here, then where? Aachen is one of Europe's largest research centers. And the knowledge generated here in terms of production is an important factor. Our founder, Professor Schuh, always wanted to develop a civilian vehicle. He initially founded StreetScooter GmbH, which he later sold to the German Postal Services in 2014. Professor Schuh then used this knowledge to start this new project. A good idea, plenty of motivated people, and off it went!

In the meantime, we are creating lots of jobs in the region. In January, we had 318 permanent employees, we are continuing to expand, we are also attracting Tier-One companies and we are forming a new, completely electric automotive location. That is something to be really proud of.

The trust of the customers and employees is a major point. We have more than 3000 pre-orders and we could have more than that, but we have currently limited the pre-ordering option.

You were with the Fraunhofer IPT for a long time and were involved in Additive Production and "Process Technology for the Wire-based Laser Metal Deposition ( LMD-W for short)", amongst other things. Does this background play a role in your current activities?

Additive manufacturing has a certain charm, as it does away with established technologies with its own disruptive technology, but you can only use it in a vehicle if it makes sense. The cheaper a component is, the more difficult it is to produce a 3D print at a competitive price. This technology is currently of particular interest in aircraft construction. And now, the topic of additive manufacturing is slowly being noticed in the automotive industry. There are many feasible options in cars, for example printed inlays for decorative parts in the interior and exterior design, but they lack that last finishing touch. But we aren't quite as fast when it comes to metal components in mass production.

This know-how is useful for building prototypes and helps us in their development. Because we rely on "releases instead of freezes." We rely on a highly iterative process. Quickly manufactured, close-to-production prototypes are essential for this. That means new ideas are developed, tested and then implemented in construction as quickly as possible.

What did you take along with you from your time at Fraunhofer apart from the technical aspect.

Until summer last year, I was at the IPT for five years and led various national and international projects on "additive manufacturing" and "process technologies" for wire-based laser metal deposition in my function as a scientific employee and PhD student. Apart from the high level of attraction of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, I have mainly benefited from the many industrial contacts. With a total of more than 70 institutes, you meet lots of people and clever minds, of course. As an example, I would like to highlight the Fraunhofer lead project e3 Production under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz. This diversity is really a lot of fun, which is hard to find in any other organization.

Thank you for this intresting conversation, Mr. Klingbeil.

Alumni-Meeting - »E-Mobility, Connected Cars
& Autonomous Driving«

15. Oktober - München

Together with alumni of the University of St. Gallen and the HSG Alumni Club Munich, the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. invites you to the Fraunhofer headquarters in Munich on the topic "E-Mobility, Connected Cars & Autonomous Driving". With Prof. Andreas Herrmann, Director at the Institute for Customer Insight, University of St. Gallen (HSG), and Mario Trapp, Director of the Fraunhofer ESK, two internationally renowned experts will talk about new mobility and security concepts. Further lectures, a discussion round and exhibits from the Fraunhofer world on the subject of "autonomous driving" are planned. Networking and a flying buffet will conclude our prelude to "CONNECTING ALUMNI - Experience and Expertise in Dialogue". This series of events is organized by Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. in cooperation with alumni associations of universities and companies.

More details and registration here.

Academia meets Management - the first INNOVATIONLOUNGE

 More than 120 experts from research and management discussed the opportunities and risks of digitization in medium-sized businesses at the first INNOVATIONLOUNGE of the Fraunhofer Alumni e.V. in Munich. Under the motto "Intelligent networking and AI in production", alumni of the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. as well as employees of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft exchanged ideas with managers of Atreus GmbH, a provider of interim management, about current digital technologies in companies. In addition to presentations on the Fraunhofer research status in digitization and artificial intelligence, Andreas Widl, CEO of valve manufacturer SAMSON, showed how his company is implementing digital transformation and is already expanding its lead over its international competitors.

To the Artikel.

The Fraunhofer alumnus that ist generating energy from ocean waves

© CalWave

Marcus Lehmann spent eight months at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft headquarters in Munich from the end of 2011. Today he runs a company that could make a decisive contribution to humanity's energy supply in the future. The company CalWave Power Technologies Inc., which was co-founded by the Fraunhofer alumnus and which he also chairs as CEO, is developing a power plant that generates electricity from ocean waves. In comparison to wind or solar energy, this process offers various advantages. If the energy of all ocean waves could be captured it would be possible to produce the amount of energy that was consumed worldwide in the entire year of 2008. It is estimated that by 2050 up to 10 percent of Europe's electricity requirements could realistically be covered by energy from the sea.  

The power plants of the young Californian enterprise float under the ocean's surface some distance away from the coastline. This has several advantages: Unlike wind turbines, these plants are under water and thus not visible. They can produce energy even during storms and do not depend on sun and wind. Above all, however, the energy yields from these power plants can be reliably predicted over a long period of time. CalWave Power Technologies was runner up to the U.S. Department of Energy's Wave Energy Prize and is a project of Cyclotron Road, a start-up incubator from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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IAP-Alumna Nguyen-Kim wins prestigious Friedrichs Prize

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim
© © WDR / Thomas Kierok Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim

The Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. is proud to announce that the "Quarks" presenter, science journalist, chemist and Fraunhofer-IAP alumna Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim has won the Hanns-Joachim-Friedrichs-Award 2019 together with ZDF presenter Harald Lesch.

The jury was convinced by the "lively language and unbridled lust and curiosity" of the two journalists, with which they make even complex topics understandable for their viewers and users. Professor Alexander Böker, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, congratulated the 31-year-old on his cosmopolitan attitude. Nguyen-Kim is particularly interested in science among the younger generation. 

To article.  

The New "Career Portal for Fraunhofer Employees"

Since May 2018, the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. has been offering the "Career Portal", the main focus of which is on supporting departing Fraunhofer employees in their further career development outside the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

It addresses Fraunhofer employees who will leave the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft within the next 6 months due to the termination of a temporary contract, and offers them a platform to hire their own applicants. Former Fraunhofer employees who have been alumni for some time can also use this portal. Access to these application profiles is restricted exclusively to the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. companies interested in highly qualified specialists.

Interested Fraunhofer employees and institute administrations can find further information in the Alumni section of the Fraunhofer Intranet and in the flyer following this text.

If you have any questions, please contact us:

Martin Schindler    
Speaker Alumni - Editorial Office and Career Portal

Phone: +49 89 1205-2158