G. Schuh, M. Pitsch, N. Komorek, T. Hensen

WZL at RWTH Aachen University (GERMANY)
The tool and die making industry has an unique position in the industrial value chain between product development and serial production and contributes significantly to the economic performance of a country. The tool and die making industry enables serial production by providing customized tools which are produced in single or small batches. The tool making companies, which are mostly small and medium enterprises, are influencing time-to-market essentially. Because of this influence the tool and die making industry is under big pressure. These characteristics lead to diverse challenges for the tool and die making industry. Industry-specific challenges require scientific solutions. Therefore it needs a close collaboration between research institutes at universities and companies of the tool and die making industry.

As a solution to the challenges the Aachener Werkzeugbau Akademie GmbH (WBA) was founded in 2011. It offers a platform for regular and scientific exchanges between university and industry. The WBA is a spin-off of the RWTH Aachen University as a result of the collaborative activities of the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production WZL and the Fraunhofer-Institute for Production Technology IPT. Operating principles are characterized by the close relationship between these two institutes of production engineering. The WBA offers a network of tool manufacturers, suppliers, raw material producers and research institutes. Nowadays the network of the WBA already has 43 partners and 29 cooperation partners of the tool and die making industry.

The WBA business model consists of the four dimensions Industrial Consulting, Research, Further Education and a Demonstration Tool Shop. Because of the integrated structure of the business model, the WBA is able to addresses all challenges of the tool and die making industry. The dimension of Industrial Consulting allows tool making companies to participate in different projects to develop individual and sustainable solutions for organizational and technological challenges. These experts also identify trends and develop methods in research projects to strengthen the tool and die making industry in Germany. In addition the WBA offers comprehensive training of specialists and executive staff in order to transfer knowledge into the companies. Because of the necessity of the validation of results the WBA has its own Demonstration Tool Shop. Altogether the WBA is a successful example for an industry-orientated academy which supports industry in all challenges. The WBA is a prototype for prospective collaboration between university and industry. This paper describes the business model of the WBA and explains the collaboration between university and industry.