Cognitive Engineering and Production

Towards more competitive manufacturing enterprises and more attractive workplaces

Digital transformation and Industrie 4.0 continue to make inroads into R&D and manufacturing. People, products, IT systems, machines, plants and the like are increasingly connected and talking to each other, often via mobile devices. Many companies are pondering how to best harness the power of digitalization and tap its vast potential. Our services can help you align your strategies, processes and organization in an efficient and methodical way to make the most of state-of-the-art technologies in your manufacturing company. Drawing on many years’ experience in real-world consulting projects and the latest findings in cutting-edge science and research, we have what it takes to make the transition work for you.

Putting innovative methods and vast experience developing products and production lines to work, our experts investigate the development process from front to end. Everything from the inceptive idea to the finishing touch on the final product comes under their microscope. We test new products and processes in virtual environments such as our “Immersive Engineering Lab” to build solutions that hone your competitive edge. Then we fine-tune these processes in near-real-world environments such as the “Future Work Lab“ to speed their journey to practical application.

Digital tools such as virtual and augmented reality help us design and assess processes, products and even entire buildings. We also explore ways in which digital engineering can accelerate, improve and boost the cost-effectiveness of organizational processes in manufacturing companies’ technical departments.

Our customers can also count on our support for their efforts to develop efficient processes and attractive work systems, and to organize industrial workflows in more flexible ways.

Our Cognitive Engineering and Production researchers focus on:

  • Optimizing manufacturing companies’ processes, from digitally supported engineering to lean job processing on the shop floor
  • Making the most of IT in product development
  • Actualizing use cases and custom Industrie 4.0 solutions, from the inceptive idea to the product launch
  • Drafting attractive and resilient staffing plans for shop floors, flexible employment models and ergonomic shift schedules
  • Assessing and fashioning manufacturing workstations with exoskeletons
  • Digitalizing production lines and deploying digital twins, from initial consultation through to developing and optimizing smart products, processes and even entire factories
  • Developing virtual reality technologies and applications to support engineering in the manufacturing industry
  • Devising human-machine interaction technologies and concepts for connected production lines
  • Designing interactive surfaces and spaces
  • Incorporating VR/AR in learning and remote scenarios



ARENA2036 - »Active Research Environment for the Next Generation of Automobiles«

It’s all in the name: The “Active Research Environment for the Next Generation of Automobiles“, or ARENA2036 for short, enables science and industry partners to collaborate in new ways and jointly explore the future of manufacturing and lightweighting at the same research campus.


Mobile plug-in lab for advanced systems engineering

A mobile plug-in lab will provide SMEs in Baden-Württemberg with hands-on experience in the development of complex technical systems.   



The mission: build a platform to enable community-based development of service robots. Its purpose: support workflows and tools, and afford access to legacy hardware components. 


Future Work Lab

Where is work headed? On the factory floor, but also with regard to processes and services, digitalization is raising many new questions. Headed by Fraunhofer IAO, the newly opened “Future Work Lab – an innovation laboratory for work, people and technology” offers innovative approaches and answers.  


CoAvatar: Collective spatial problem solving in virtual space

Which spatial and sensory information is most helpful in solving spatial problems, and how do people solve these problems? Examining these research questions will enable mental representations of objects, the environment, and one's own body, as well as those of other users, to be perceived as natural and has been already proven to be important for spatially related tasks. 


V/AR Application Centers

The Fraunhofer IAO, the Virtual Dimension Center (VDC) and the Animationsinstitut of the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg are teaming up in a project called V/AR Application Centers to bring down the barriers impeding the use of virtual reality and augmented reality in business. 

The Cognitive Engineering and Production Research Unit is organized in the following teams:


Connected Manufacturing Systems

Develops methods, use cases and procedures for the realization and efficient operation of connected, cognitive manufacturing systems.


Manufacturing Management

Provides analyses to help companies organize their business processes and production processes in such a way as to create efficient, attractive and flexible working conditions.


Digital Engineering

Supports companies with product creation and the design of suitable production processes. Current areas of focus are the impact of Engineering 4.0 on the development process, the influence of additive manufacturing technologies on product development, and urban production.


Advanced Systems Engineering

Helps companies manage their product development on the basis of scenario planning and other strategic methods. Areas of focus include cutting-edge approaches to product development – along with the requisite IT systems – and the development of frugal innovations.


Visual Interactive Technologies

Investigates the use of 2D and 3D user interfaces in the age of digitalization. Areas of focus include the application of virtual and augmented reality in product development and manufacturing, and the development of interactive surfaces.