Falkenberg, Aug. 11, 2023 // The IT and logistics company IGZ and the OTH Amberg-Weiden are expanding their cooperation by turning Falkenberg into an "Innovative Learning Site". For IGZ Managing Director Johann Zrenner, it's a "knighthood for IGZ and for the partnership between the company and the university." In the future, there will be even more practice-oriented exchange for and with students on topics such as logistics, Industry 4.0 and AI applications. This strengthens the East Bavarian economy and helps to retain and attract skilled workers in the region.
The successful company from Falkenberg, founded in 1999 in a barn, is now the market leader in its market segment for SAP logistics software. It has more than 550 employees and continues to grow. "We are increasing by 15 percent every year," explains the managing director, "even under the current macroeconomic conditions." Falkenberg and the local IGZ want to continue to promote the training of students as an "innovative place of learning". This became clear at the ceremony in Falkenberg, which was also attended by prominent guests such as OTH President Prof. Dr. Clemens Bulitta, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Günter Kummetsteiner (Faculty of Industrial Engineering), Mayor Matthias Grundler, MdL and MP Dr. Stephan Oetzinger and MdL and MP Tobias Reiß.
IGZ has already been a partner of OTH Amberg-Weiden since 2016 and has been increasingly active as a sponsor of the teaching and research activities of the "Industrial Engineering" degree program for the past five years. IGZ Managing Director Johann Zrenner was pleased about the next step in the partnership: "The designation as an 'Innovative Learning Site' is an 'accolade' for our cooperation, the practice-oriented training of students and joint research activities." And Mayor Matthias Grundler also emphasized, "This strengthens our entire region, also in terms of well-trained specialists for the future industry of intralogistics."
The research focus together with the OTH Amberg / Weiden includes "Artificial Intelligence (AI) in practice", image processing, digitization and software development. Says Johann Zrenner: "The high level of quality and focus match ours as a company." With the ILO designation, students can expect even greater support from IGZ in the future. They can already complete internships, practice-related excursions, bachelor's and master's theses at the company, which has around 550 employees, and thus acquire the latest practical experience directly in industry. In addition, there are regular joint research projects and special SAP courses and excursions to well-known customers. As a learning and research environment, they now also have access to the facilities for more practical relevance, such as the "IGZ Innovation Center" with state-of-the-art technology and IT equipment. The IGZ team helps them with many technical questions.
For example, IGZ set up its own AI team more than 5 years ago to focus on AI and works closely with OTH in the area of research.
Artificial intelligence is fundamentally changing science, industry, commerce and especially logistics, and is already reducing complexity enormously, for example in the form of networked machines and means of transport. This is highly relevant for OTH, as it is participating in the "Digital Campus" future project funded by the Free State of Bavaria. This results in a win-win situation for all involved: students can conduct research with the latest AI technologies at the new "Innovative Learning Site" Falkenberg, build up AI know-how and also advance IGZ's research." Prof. Dr.-Ing. Günter Kummetsteiner from OTH says: "The support from IGZ is a great gain for us and the region. Because experience shows that many graduates want to stay in Eastern Bavaria and thus we can also contribute to securing the competitiveness of regional companies."
Further training certificates for job entry
A special feature is the courses offered by the "IGZ Academy", which is otherwise only open to employees: IGZ will also open these to OTH students. As a result, they will then be free to attend in the future thanks to the ILO agreement. Andreas Spangler, Head of the Innovation & Competence Center at IGZ, says: "By participating, they can acquire valuable knowledge and further training certificates on topics such as SAP, AI, logistics or Industry 4.0 for later job entry."
The cooperation has already paid off for the Falkenberg-based company; "28 OTH graduates are already working at IGZ," says Zrenner. Another success is the "SAP Factory" project launched by OTH and IGZ, a teaching and research platform for the practice-oriented mapping of operational processes for production and logistics. Here, all essential core functions can be learned and practiced in a factory-like environment. "We are always amazed at the students' innovative ideas and, through the collaboration, get to know promising specialists who can imagine working for us one day. So both sides benefit from each other," says Spangler.
In the future, too, the students' research findings will be incorporated into practical projects. Just in May, such a solution was awarded the prestigious "German Innovation Award award: The HAWK2 packing assistance system, for which a patent application has been filed. The system helps retailers and industry to pack goods optimally and save up to 30 percent shipping volume and thus transport energy and CO2.
Like the eponymous "falcon," HAWK2 uses a camera to keep an eye on the packaging planning and process and relies on collaborative cooperation with humans and the use of AI. This year, for the third time in a row, IGZ received the prestigious "German Innovation Award" in Berlin.
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