Where Ideas are Born
When Trelleborg Sealing Solutions decided that it was time to move its Stuttgart headquarters, creativity was a focus. Not only would its new location be a great place to work but it would also be a great place to think.-By Donna Guinvan
BACK IN 2016, TRELLEBORG SEALING SOLUTIONS SIGNED A CONTRACT for a new building in Stuttgart, Germany, to house the business area’s global headquarters, its German headquarters and various global support departments. And right on schedule personnel began moving in ready for the official opening of the Innovation Center in September 2018.
- Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has moved its global headquarters, German headquarters and global support to the new Innovation Center in Stuttgart, Germany
- Research and development capabilities extended by 50% to 3,000 meters, with a showroom area
- New digital capabilities accelerate innovation and shorten development cycles
Prof. Dr. Konrad Saur
Accelerating Technological BreakthroughsWithin the Innovation Center, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has extended its research and development capabilities by 50%, to around 3,000 square meters, including a 300 square meter showroom area dedicated to the department and demonstrating all R&D capabilities.
“Innovation is not only about new products and materials, but advancements in analytical and technical capabilities to support problem resolution and to accelerate technological breakthroughs,” says Prof. Dr. Konrad Saur, Director Global R&D at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions.
The new Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Innovation Center will host laboratories with the latest analytical equipment and measurement centers, next to innovation and prototype facilities, as well as a major test area with a fully equipped tool room and materials laboratory. The capabilities will range from standard and advanced mechanical testing, to advanced thermal and thermodynamic analytics, including Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA), Digital Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, to highly advanced analytical technologies such as a high-resolution Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with an Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX).
“With such capabilities working in combination, complex problems in research, innovation, engineering and customer service can be assessed and brought to resolution rapidly.”-PROF. DR. KONRAD SAUR, Director Global R&D at Trelleborg Sealing Solution
An integrated approach“With such capabilities working in combination, complex problems in research, innovation, engineering and customer service can be assessed and brought to resolution rapidly,” Konrad continues. “No time is lost shipping samples from lab to lab, turnaround times and iterative assessment are enabled as crossfunctional competencies work directly together. These capabilities support material and product development efforts, fundamental research of sealing designs and interactions in sealing systems, as well as root cause and failure analysis in production and from the field.”
Konrad points out that, “Ever shorter innovation cycles, simultaneous engineering and increased complexity in new systems characterize the innovation process in today’s industry. To respond to this, product development and engineering are increasingly using digitalized information to make the processes faster and support cross-functional team work along the value chain.”
At the Innovation Center, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions will support its internal innovation processes, custom development and engineering through a fully digital development process that goes from 3D CAD to Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to 3D printing, as well as rapid prototyping. There will even be CAM-integration, where CNC machining information can be dropped into the tool room for tool or even product prototype machining.
WORK AND LIVE“The new building incorporates a ‘Work and Live Space’ concept, offering a perfect environment for our processes and project work,” says Carsten Stehle, General Manager of Trelleborg Sealing Solutions in Germany. “This, as well as improved transparency, will speed up and facilitate easy internal and external communications, allowing us to spend more time on partnerships with customers and suppliers. In addition, according to our Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines, the building will exceed the latest environmental standards.”
New Innovation Center
Digital will be key“We’ll be utilizing a full digital chain, supported by physical sampling, testing and analytics,” continues Konrad. “This will allow quick iterations and significantly speed up product development and engineering processes without information loss, multiple-data entries and data re-generation. 3D scanning for quality control will provide immediate feedback into design and prototyping.
“This capability will allow us to interact in a unique way with our customers that will accelerate innovation, shorten development cycles, reducing the number of designs and prototypes required to come to an effective final specification. With the new and integrated capabilities in our Innovation Center, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions will continue to make major steps in exceeding our customers’ expectations. We intend to be there for our customers always.”
THE FOURTH REVOLUTIONDr. Johannes Kunze von Bischhoffshausen, Manager Digital Transformation and Internet of Things at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, says: “Diagnostics and prediction of seal health have long been a dream of engineers at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions. Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) are therefore becoming an important focus for manufacturers worldwide. There is a call for products to become smarter and more intelligent to reduce downtime, lower maintenance costs, create safer applications and reduce waste.”
Under the Cognitive Sealing concept, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions is rapidly building up expertise in this area, focusing on critical sealing applications. This is not just built upon unique Trelleborg assets, such as test rigs, but also in close collaboration with selected customers. In addition, the company is also piloting IoT technology to offer smart services and to increase efficiency and quality in manufacturing.
“We had to take a different approach to kick off the IoT initiative that is based on an open innovation philosophy and close collaboration with customers, startups, and research institutions,” explains Johannes.
A home to developAt the new Innovation Centre there will be a IoT Lab in order to give a home and an inspiring work environment to all IoT based initiatives. The lab will contain a prototyping area for electronics, as well as an IoT test rig and demo area.
“The purpose of the lab is to evaluate IoT technology and build prototypes in a very short timeframe,” continues Johannes. “Instead of a long theoretical conceptualization phase, we will start building prototypes as early as possible. Our IoT solutions are based on four pillars: innovative sensor technology, edge computing, and artificial intelligence – in conjunction with our e xpertise in the geometries and materials of advanced sealing solutions.
“We know that the opportunity to utilize IoT to accelerate the performance of our customers is virtually infinitesimal and we hope that the new lab will be one small step in grasping the huge potential that exists.”
INNOVATION IN ACTIONAs Konrad Saur said, innovation is not only about new products and materials, but advancements in analytical and technical capabilities. One case in point was a recent investigation undertaken by the R&D Team.
A customer noticed damage in the form of black particles on the inside surface of their hydraulic cylinder that they believed was caused by abrasion of the seal on the inner of the cylinder. Analysis on the inside of the cylinder and the particles was performed using an Energy-dispersive X-ray Spectroscope (EDS). In fact, the particles had nothing to do with abrasion by the seal but a high concentration of oxygen that had resulted in the buildup of rust.