2014.05.23

Architecture and concept geared to future work environments

Space for imagination: The WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory

Designed by HENN Architekten, the internationally renowned Munich architects, the WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory makes a stunning impression with its seven metre high glass façade and huge shade sails. Glass – symbolizing transparency – also dominates on the inside of the new complex with its three storeys, overall height of 14 metres and footprint measuring 133 x 97 metres. With around 18,000 square metres of usable floor space, the Innovation Factory is roughly the same size as the six existing production shops at the WITTENSTEIN headquarters in Igersheim-Harthausen and offers room for 500 staff – more than 300 of whom have already moved into the new building.

A gallery provides customers and visitors with a panoramic view of the facility: spacious, light production areas create optimal opportunities for innovative, process oriented manufacturing workflows in terms of resource efficiency, environmental awareness and work conditions. Short lines of communication are guaranteed to the office workplaces with their insulated acoustic ceilings and glass fronts looking out onto several inner courtyards – there is never any shortage of daylight here. The triple glazing familiar from so-called passive houses, WITTENSTEIN's own combined heat and power plant for energy production and the photovoltaic system on the roof are only a few instances of the consistent ecological and economic concept applied throughout, which has already been awarded a pre-certificate in gold by the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council).

Quality seal for sustainable building: DGNB pre-certificate in gold The Factory already complies with the strict requirements of the DGNB – whose certificates are conferred in recognition of the outstanding fulfilment of up to fifty sustainability criteria under the headings ecology, economy, sociocultural aspects, technology, processes and location. The pre-certificate confirms 80% or more fulfilment of these criteria at the time the new building was opened. The natural shell limestone from the local region, the FSC® 100 certified wood used for the entire parquet flooring, the partial cladding of the façade components with Resysta material and the decision to forego installation foam are just a few examples.

Inside the factory the client attached considerable importance to an "inspirational atmosphere" – all workstations, regardless of whether they are used by production of administrative staff, are designed to the same high quality, clean and tidy, quiet and brightly lit. Spacious, open, transparent rooms and offices on wheels guarantee efficient interaction and maximum flexibility. Desks and other furniture items can be reconfigured as and when necessary depending on the type of work to be done – a practice that is already established in Production.

 

Responsible and sustainable

The new building represents a logical continuation of WITTENSTEIN's deep-rooted conviction: that there is no alternative to responsible investments in a sustainable future. The owner family is guided in everything it does by a duty to future generations, and it was therefore only natural that the Innovation Factory should be built in line with the latest state of the art using innovative technologies. The heavy investment is already paying off: the company's operating costs will be halved compared to the other buildings on the same site – despite full air conditioning and the fact that all the air inside the facility is recirculated in only three hours.

Tightly interconnected and highly flexible

Innovative products inevitably go hand in hand with innovative production strategies. The WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory sets an outstanding example here: the Development, Sales & Marketing and Production functions of the Group's three mechatronic subsidiaries WITTENSTEIN motion control, WITTENSTEIN cyber motor and WITTENSTEIN electronics will in future be united under one roof. The "articles of manufacture" are mechatronic components and systems comprised of mechanics, controls, sensors and software for customer applications in a variety of industries such as semiconductors, power generation or automotive.

Innovative products inevitably go hand in hand with innovative production strategies. The WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory sets an outstanding example here: the Development, Sales & Marketing and Production functions of the Group's three mechatronic subsidiaries WITTENSTEIN motion control, WITTENSTEIN cyber motor and WITTENSTEIN electronics will in future be united under one roof. The "articles of manufacture" are mechatronic components and systems comprised of mechanics, controls, sensors and software for customer applications in a variety of industries such as semiconductors, power generation or automotive.

The complete value creation process will take place within a thirty metre radius in the Innovation Factory – from the initial idea to the finished product. All process partners will be brought closer together instead of work groups going about their respective tasks more or less in isolation – the interfaces between different departments have been optimised to encourage information sharing among staff. The Development, Sales and Production spaces are arranged along a single axis. The architecture meets the high standard stipulated by the client for the building in every possible way: the special structural measures permit highly flexible and adaptable production processes as well as prompt reactions to changing customer requirements. Lead times will in future be shorter thanks to this fruitful proximity: the ability to execute projects thirty percent faster on average and realize prototypes much quicker than before is a decisive advantage. The numerous open communication spaces with lounge furniture and bistro tables and the small conference rooms will also have a positive impact.

 

On the way to Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is a vision. Experts estimate that this process will take around thirty or forty years. The aim is no longer simply to facilitate the continuous optimization of industrial processes; WITTENSTEIN is also engaged in a quest for completely new methods of production involving intelligent interaction in value added networks. In addition to technological advances and innovative products, it is particularly new processes and services and in some cases complete business models and social innovations that are important focal areas. "Computerized production" provides answers for the future. The goal is the "smart factory", which will sustainably enhance productivity and flexibility. WITTENSTEIN AG has just taken a big step towards the fulfilment of this vision with the official opening of the WITTENSTEIN Innovation Factory.