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Fraunhofer IFAM

Project result: Poster (PDF)

Automated production of railway vehicles

Description of the company
Fraunhofer IFAM is part of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the world’s leading applied research organization. In Stade we develop solutions for automated assembly, joining and machining technologies. We work on projects mainly for the aircraft and wind power industry, as well as initial steps into the railway transportation sector. Our focus lays on the topics of large structure assembly, adhesive and surface applications, innovative lightweight materials, production-related prototyping, robotic systems, process optimization, digital factory planning and metrology devices. The team in Stade consists of roughly 100 young researchers and engineers from various fields of technology as well as student assistants who merge into a creative workspace for the realization of future technological challenges.

Situation & Problem
Climate change presents engineers and scientists with new challenges every day. Global warming is forcing society to rethink. To be successful and competitive in the future we have to accept and start correcting the mistakes of the past. In order to achieve the eco-traffic changeover, a massive stock expansion of railway vehicles in Europe is required in the years to come. Today's fleet of German railway companies also needs to be renewed. In order to be able to serve this high demand for next generation vehicles, it will be necessary to rethink existing manufacturing processes and concepts and to rely on more automated production processes in this area of industry as well.

The institute in Stade has decades of experience of automation in the aviation sector, and managed to successfully complete various research tasks for international customer.

The current crisis showed that the aerospace industry does not remain unaffected by the needs of our time. Together with the necessity for a more climate friendly transportation sector Fraunhofer IFAM identified the railway sector as a worthy goal. Due to basic similarities with aircraft production in regards of size, shape and requirements of the product itself, combined with the emerging needs of an automated production process, our expertise in Stade can be of great value for the modernisation of the railway production industry.

However, we just begun immerging into that market and have a significant demand for conceptual work and development of relevant innovations. The knowledge gap in ‘traditional’ train making represents a challenge for us to get into this market and offers the opportunity to introduce our experiences in automation with new ideas and concepts into the railway sector.

Aims of the project
The general aim is to identify synergy potentials between railway and aerospace transportation that Fraunhofer IFAM can introduce into the railway transportation sector. In this project, we would like to create a concept that takes into account the following goals:

Train production of tomorrow:

  • Eco-friendly production process
    • Saving energy and resources
    • Maintainability and repair procedures
  • Modularized approach
    • Lightweight construction
    • Stability and customer comfort
    • Pre-equipment of modules
  • Automated assembly
    • Design for automation
    • Handling and joining of large structures
  • requirements of the train of tomorrow
    • focus on the cabin waggon
  • Design and Simulation

The procedure that we suggest includes the following steps:

  • Research of the state of the art in railway production
  • Identification of complementary technologies in research of aircraft production with focus on large structure assembly and system integration
  • Investigation on general design aspects for a skilful automated production processes
  • Development of concept for next-gen train vehicle production, taking in to account the qualities listed above (design for automation, ecological, modularization…)
  • Simulation/Visualization of potential automated manufacture of railway vehicles

Target group (students)
We are looking for an interdisciplinary team of enthusiastic students, who will contribute their interests and expertise and would like to explore the field of automation in railway vehicle production. This might be:

  • Systems engineering of e.g. aircrafts, railways, automotive, ships
  • Product development
  • Materials science
  • Production planning and technologies
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Project management
  • Mechatronics
  • Robotics
  • Logistics

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Therefore, if you are interested but your course of studies is not mentioned explicitly, do not worry, feel free to apply anyways!

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