Industries are facing technical challenges to achieve greater material flow rates in industrial plants and sometimes lack know-how in innovative process engineering to achieve faster throughput times. Individual SMEs can only provide part of mechanical engineering solutions and might therefore not appear to be attractive partners to industry customers. However, by joining forces in a network, a group of SMEs can offer a full range of resource efficient plant construction services.
ZENIT GmbH (Zentrum für Innovation und Technik in Nordrhein-Westfalen) developed the initial concept of the RAiN network. ZENIT applied for public grant funding for demonstration for the network which brings together resource efficient plant construction SMEs. It received sponsorship from the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology (BMWi) through its ZIM-NEMO programme to design and realize RAiN Anlagenbau.
ZENIT acts as an interface for the partners in the network. It is responsible for the administration, the initiation and organisation of plant construction projects, the co-ordination of product developments, and for marketing and PR issues.
In cooperation with the Technical University Aachen the network guarantees direct access to technological know-how and innovation.
The six SMEs are specialized in mechanical engineering services covering all aspects of energy and resource efficient plant construction. They share each other’s know-how in the field of automation, innovative technology, mechanical processing, jointing technology, 3D design and project management and management systems.
Why did it work?
Together RAiN network members can offer a full service for plant construction and acquire large-scale projects, which they could not manage on their own. As a joint supplier of resource efficient plant machinery, they can now design, manufacture and assemble individual plants according to costumers’ requirements.
RAiN represents a promising example for promoting eco-innovation by networking among SMEs. The network is fully operational but the concept has not been replicated to other areas yet so the maturity level is estimated to be 7 on the GML scale.
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