Research projects

Smart prototypes for virtual commissioning

Virtual reality (VR) allows manufacturing systems to be tested in the early phases of development, thus facilitating faster rollout. The high costs associated with this technology, coupled with the lack of an adequate infrastructure have, however, thus far prevented small and medium-sized mechanical and plant engineering companies from reaping the benefits. New methods and IT solutions for smart hybrid prototyping are being developed in the VIB-SHP research project. The aim is to create a modular system for an interactive 3D development environment so that SMEs can virtually validate the commissioning of production systems before expensive construction work commences.

  • Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Stark, Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (IPK)
  • Consortium: CONTACT, Datenflug, EDAG Production Solutions, Mewes & Partner, Jonas & Redmann, nVIZ, Promess, PSI Automotive & Industry, Berlin Technical University
  • Duration: until October 2017​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

New business models for Industry 4.0

Although digitalization offers industry many opportunities, it also raises the question of how to use it to actually earn money. In GEMiNI, the project partners have developed a catalog of templates for configuring new business models for Industry 4.0 and mapped them in CIM Database PLM. The IT-based methodology covers the process from the forming of ideas to the development of business models and risk management through to value-added planning, and links it with the product data in the PLM system. This helps companies systematically develop and successfully design new digital offerings.

  • Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Gausemeier, Heinz Nixdorf Institute (HNI) of the University of Paderborn
  • Consortium: Atos IT Solutions and Services, CONTACT Software, Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design (IEM), the Sales & Marketing Department at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, SLM Solutions, Unity
  • Duration: until April 2017


The future of development is model-based

The Internet of Things links products and production systems with each other and with centralized services. Embedded software and electronics play an important role in this context. This requires to a much greater extent than before a development process in which all the disciplines work closely together from the beginning. The consortium project mecPro² provides new methods and tools for systems engineering that support model-driven planning, control and collaboration in PLM.

  • Coordinator: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Eigner, Institute for Virtual Product Development at Kaiserslautern University
  • Consortium: CONTACT, Continental, Daimler, :em engineering methods, Schaeffler Technologies, Siemens, Unity
  • Duration: until January 2017
  • The book about the project: Modellbasierter Entwicklungsprozess cybertronischer Systeme – Der PLM-unterstützte Entwicklungsprozess für Produkte und Produktionssysteme[l1] . Eigner, M.; Koch, W.; Muggeo, C. (editors). Verlag Springer Vieweg, ISBN 978-3-662-55123-3 (print), 978-3-662-55124-0 (e-book).

Studies and initiatives

Product development in corporate networks

Cross-enterprise collaboration is set to increase significantly. In the future, it will not only extend to development networks but also to practically every phase of the product lifecycle. And it will demand new methods and technologies to improve integration of the various partners in the PLM process. These are some of the key results of an expert study undertaken by CONTACT Software, Fraunhofer IPK and the VDI. »Zukunft der unternehmensübergrifenden Kollaboration: Expertenmeinungen zu aktuellen Herausforderungen und zukunftsweisenden Trends in der kollaborativen Produktentwicklung«, editors: Dr. Roland Drewinski, Dr. Haygazun Hayka, Dr. Patrick Müller, Prof. Dr. Rainer Stark. Published in 2016, 120 pages with more than 40 tables and figures, ISBN 978-3-945406-06-9.

Collaborative product development and digital tools

The first joint study by CONTACT, Fraunhofer IPK and VDI focuses on internal collaboration. With more than 1,400 participants, the survey is also one of the largest in the international PLM environment and an excellent basis for the second study. The evaluation shows that more transparency in the project business is the top issue across all sectors. The following study also reflects the trend: partner networks and intensive data exchange dominate engineers' everyday working lives.  »Kollaborative Produktentwicklung und digitale Werkzeuge. Defizite heute – Potenziale morgen«, editors: Prof. Dr. Rainer Stark, Dr. Roland Drewinski, Dr. Haygazun Hayka, Dr. Heinz Bedenbender. Published in 2013, 103 pages with over 30 tables and figures, ISBN 978-3-00-039111-8

CONTACT University

In the digital age, companies rely more than ever before on highly qualified young professionals in the fields of engineering and computer science. The CONTACT University program is our contribution.

PLM in teaching

CONTACT supports excellence in research and teaching through a broad-based university program. It allows us to provide students with access to state-of-the-art PLM software and enables them to gain practical knowledge relating to the development of smart products and production systems. Since its introduction in 2011, numerous national and international universities and research institutes have taken advantage of our cooperative venture.

Endowed chair

The Chinese German College for Postgraduate Studies in Shanghai has had a CONTACT chair for product development since July 2017. The college, founded in 1998 by Tongji University and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), trains executives who are familiar with both cultures. The master programs in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and automotive engineering, economics and business law are multilingual (CN, DE and ENG) and include a stay in Germany for Chinese students. Students at the German partner universities, on the other hand, can transfer to Shanghai and spend one or two semesters abroad.


The RoboCup is an international initiative to promote research in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. In the competitions, scientists and students from all over the world compete against each other with their self-programmed football robots. We are lending our support to B-Human, a top RoboCup team, from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Bremen. Its wins so far: six world championships , nine German and European championships.

Formula Student

Within the framework of CONTACT University, we are also providing support to various Formula Student teams, which are getting their vehicles onto the race track faster with the help of CIM Database PLM and other CONTACT solutions.

More information about our engagement


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