Over the course of a semester, 42 students from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and its Institute for Product Development and Innovation (IPEK) conducted research for Schubert on the topic of “Customer-oriented, flexible packaging processes and machine systems for tomorrow’s packaging”. They presented their research results at the project’s closing event. The collaboration was a resounding success for both Schubert and the university.
About six months ago, Schubert ventured into new territory and took part in a collaborative project involving KIT and IPEK. During a full semester, 42 students from the prestigious university conducted research for the packaging machine manufacturer from Crailsheim. The closing event took place just a few days ago. “Within the framework of short presentations and an exhibition, the participants presented their research results to us. And I must say that the students truly impressed us with their thought processes and ideas,” says Manuel Schuster, Head of New Assembly Development and KIT Project Manager at Schubert. “Our expectations for the project were fully met. The students inspired us to explore new approaches to solutions.” But that’s not all: The company succeeded in increasing its market awareness through the collaboration. “We hope that more young people will take an interest in the packaging sector in the future and not only in the automotive industry,” confirms Schuster.
Research was conducted on three main topics: packaging machines, processes, and packaging of the future. Manuel Schuster, together with his colleague Achraf Ben Salem, Head of Cobot Development, managed and supported the project on behalf of Schubert. Before the research could begin, the students were given insight into the world of packaging and Schubert technologies at a two-day kick-off event. They were given complete freedom to bring their ideas to life. Schuster recounts: “Nonetheless, the students were never left alone during the process.” Seven mentors from various Schubert departments were assigned to assist the students. In regular feedback meetings, those responsible discussed the next steps with them. “We were also in constant exchange with the university,” he adds. “IPEK has been organising and hosting the IP project for 25 years and has perfected the process over time. We are very happy that we could be part of such a well organised project.”
The solutions were compelling across the board. In the area of processes, the students developed concepts on how to automate mechanical machine processes while improving efficiency. Schubert was also enthusiastic about the approach of configuring packaging machines not in a line, but rather as production islands. “We also found a new type of packaging very interesting that the students developed as part of the collaboration,” says Schuster. “It can be sealed without glue, so it offers tremendous opportunities in terms of sustainability and has, of course, been patented – as have several other ideas.
For Schubert, this was the first and, sadly, the last IP project the company will be involved with: “Unfortunately, there won’t be a second one. The Institute only allows one-time participation,” explains Schuster. However, the Crailsheim-based company is delighted that the project established a close relationship with the Institute and hopes to attract more young people to the Schubert world in the future. “It was and is important to us to reach students at an early stage by positioning the packaging machine industry in their curriculum, and to get them excited about our fascinating technologies,” says Schuster. In fact, initial discussions on further collaborations have already been held. For example, Schubert is planning to make demonstration exhibits available for courses and Schubert employees will be guest lecturers to introduce students to the world of packaging machines. “All this was only made possible through the contact and the very positive project outcome,” explains Schuster.