Faster to customized vehicles
Together with Fraunhofer IPA and other partners from science and industry, thingsTHINKING GmbH from Karlsruhe is working on a digital value network. It is intended to enable small and medium-sized companies to bring customized vehicles to market in small quantities – and to do so faster and more cost-effectively than before.
Whether it’s sales carts for bakers or special vehicles for the municipal building yard, anyone who needs vehicles in small numbers for a very specific purpose has had to dig deep into their pockets and wait a long time for delivery. This is because the few companies that have the infrastructure to fulfill such wishes have to find the right suppliers for each order and win them over for the project.
In order to accelerate this process and reduce costs, representatives from science and industry want to develop a digital development and production platform for small and medium-sized companies in the research project “Intelligent value creation networks for low-volume lightweight vehicles” (IntWertL). On this platform, manufacturing companies and development service providers, as well as law firms, banks and insurance companies, are to join forces in changing constellations to form value-creating alliances – depending on which vehicle is currently being developed and is to be launched on the market.
New forms of collaboration in value networks
“From ordering to payment, we want to develop an end-to-end automated process,” says Vladimir Jelschow of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA. In doing so, the platform must map the entire process chain and take into account technical, organizational and legal framework conditions for the value network. Intelligent algorithms are to be used for automation, which, for example, determine the appropriate manufacturers for the components of the desired vehicles. This is precisely where the company thingsTHINKING comes in. The artificial intelligence (AI) semantha® developed by the company understands natural language regardless of the choice of words. It is able to read large amounts of text, finds content it is looking for, and can compare different documents directly with each other – regardless of how they are worded.
Prototype of the platform to be ready in early 2026
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection is funding the IntWertL research project with around twelve million euros. The project sponsor is TÜV Rheinland. The research project started on September 1, 2022 and is scheduled to run for 42 months. By spring 2026, the 20 participating companies and research institutions want to complete a prototype of their platform – with a limited range of functions and initial member companies.
The AI semantha® is the result of over 14 years of research in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), which culminated in the founding of thingsTHINKING GmbH in 2017. Their groundbreaking success is evidenced by awards such as the “CODE_n Award – Industry Disruptor”, being named one of the “100 Places for Industry 4.0 in Baden-Württemberg” and also the description of thingsTHINKING as a “Brain with Artificial Intelligence” by the renowned FORBES magazine. Most recently, thingsTHINKING and its AI solution semantha® were named “AI Champion Baden-Württemberg” by the state of Baden-Württemberg as a key technology of the future. For more information visit: www.semantha.de
Project partner: Altran Deutschland S.A.S & Co. KG; S&R Eisenmann GmbH; Fiber Engineering GmbH; GFT Integrated Systems GmbH; Instawerk GmbH; KENBUN IT AG; KNEBEL Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH; König Metall GmbH & Co. KG; Lauer & Weiss GmbH; Motion Ray GmbH; Schübel GmbH; 3RS–Software GmbH & Co. KG; thingsThinking GmbH; Weber Fibertech GmbH; Bwcon gGmbH; Karlsruher Institut für Technologie; Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.; Deutsches Zentrum für Luft & Raumfahrt e.V., Institut für Fahrzeugkonzepte
Associated partners: Stadt Meersburg, BW; Technologieregion Karlsruhe; Stadt Bühl
Use case encoder: AtTrack GmbH, INYO Mobility GmbH, Dipl.-Ingenieure Rainer & Oliver Puls GmbH
Picture: AdobeStock / tippapatt