FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to the most common questions regarding the Center Smart Services, the Cluster Smart Logistics, project and collaboration possibilities at the Center.

Was ist der RWTH Aachen Campus?

RWTH Aachen Campus is an association of various research institutions of the RWTH Aachen University and numerous renowned industrial companies. It was founded in 2008 as RWTH Aachen Campus GmbH. It was established in the style of large-scale university campus often found in America, in which all the strengths and forces of individual actors are bundled through local proximity and active cooperation. RWTH Aachen Campus GmbH is a subsidiary of RWTH Aachen University and the City of Aachen and is responsible for the planning, implementation and controlling of the overall campus concept. The fusion that is RWTH Aachen Campus has the overall purpose of researching economically and socially relevant problems and research topics in an interdisciplinary approach. The RWTH Aachen Campus consists of topic oriented clusters (currently six): Smart Logistics Cluster, Heavy-Duty Drives Cluster, Photonics Cluster, Bio-Medical Engineering Cluster, Production Engineering Cluster and Sustainable Energy Cluster. The individual clusters are divided into centers. They form the operative units in which relevant future issues are examined, researched and processed with visionary and innovative ideas and approaches. For more information click here.

What is the Cluster Smart Logistics?

The term Cluster Smart Logistics stands for a network of stakeholders and research entities, whose work is dedicated to the subject of smart logistics. The cluster is part of a network of other clusters on the RWTH Aachen Campus (a total of 16 different clusters is currently being set up, as of 2018). Five centers and two institutions, each researching a specific, relevant issue with a visionary approach, are currently assigned to this particular Cluster Smart Logistics. In addition to the Center Smart Services, these include the Center Enterprise Resource Planning, the Center Connected Industry, the European 4.0 Transformation Center, the Industry 4.0 Maturity Center, the Demonstration Factory and the Electro Mobility Laboratory. Further information on the Cluster Smart Logistics can be found in the official brochure, which you can view and download here free of charge.

How can I coorperate with the Center Smart Services?

The Smart Services Center works with industry and research partners, providing strategic consulting services, and collaborating with companies primarily through consortium projects, studies, and benchmarking. The focus is on the development of new smart services, the identification of digitization potentials and strategies or the identification of best practices in the context of consortial benchmarking.

Companies can become active members of the Center Smart Services by officially enrolling. Thus, they benefit from the Center’s full range of services through long-term collaboration. An overview of the available options can be found here. In addition, the Center Smart Services of course also cooperates with non-enrolled companies. If you are interested in specific Smart Service related topics and digital business models you can always get in touch with us! We are happy to make you an individual offer.

Further education offers, which are another field of activity of the Center Smart Services, are accessible to members of the Center Smart Service Community as well as to all other interested companies. An example of one of our training courses is the certificate Course “Smart Service Manager”, which we are happy to be offering again in 2019 and 2020 because the Course was such a great success last in 2018.

What are consortial projects at the Center?

Consortial projects at the Center Smart Services are industry-related, highly practice-focused projects with specific focus areas, such as the development and implementation of digital services and digital business models. These projects are always carried out by consortia consisting of industrial partners, who work together on a topic that is of particular relevance to all of them. The close side-by-side work of leading companies is the special strength of consortial projects, as this procedure bundles forces and creates synergy effects.

The projects initiated by the Center Smart Services are Independent projects and strongly focused on practice related topic, which results in the fast development of ready-to-use solutions. The solutions are made available exclusively to the project participants. Typical project results include, for example, target-oriented roadmaps and demand-oriented solutions for a particular challenge, as well as the analysis, identification and structuring of digitisation potentials in different company areas. An overview of our current projects, studies and benchmarkings can be found here.

What is a consortial study?

The Center Smart Services carries out consortial studies, a specific type of consortial project. Consortial studies usually follow clearly defined process steps to answer a previously defined research qestion. Just like consortial projects, consortial studies are led by a consortium of industry partners, who work together on a joint study goal. The studies help to collect valuable data and insights which are relevant for the strategy and business development of the companies involved. The information and details gained thanks to the consortial study can also be used for the development of a new smart services.

What is a consortial benchmarking?

At the Center Smart Services, a consortial benchmarking is a specific type of a consortial study. Its aim is to identify companies, who are particularly successful in a specific work field or method. The theoretical and practical strategies as well as the methods leading to this success are of special interest in consortial benchmarkings, the aim is to identify why these companies are more successful than others. At the end of a consortial benchmarking, the most succesful companies are awared the title of “best practice company” – usually, the five best are chosen. Again, consortial benchmarkings are also carried out by a consortium consisting of cooperating industry companies. A consortial benchmarking follows a strict pattern, used to identify the succesful companies and their used Methods: First, the benchmarking topic is defined and the companies for the consortium are selected. Afterwards, a questionnaire is designed and used as part of the companies` analyses to detect their most promising methods and strategies. For this, participants are acquired all over Europe and asked to fill out the questionnaire. Based on the collected data, it is analysed which companies could – potentially – carry the title “best practice”. Then, the chosen candidates are interviewed in in-depth telephone interviews and presented with anonymous use cases. All this content is incorporated into the final selection of successful practices, which hold a special competitive position on the market with the official award as such.

The consortium partner benefit from the scientific overview of the success principles of the analysed companies as well as an exclusive insight into the companies` everyday practice. As a result, market transparecy over which companies are successful in a specific industry area and why is increased significantly.

One example of an already completed consortial benchmarking is the one on “data-based Services”, which was carried out in 2016. It researched the strategies used by succesful companies for the development and implementation of smart services. The latest Center Smart Services benchmarking is on the topic of “Subscription Business” and analyses, how subscription business models can be turned into reality and what kind of additional benefit this can hold for customers as well as companies. More Information here.

What are digital, data-based services?

The term stands for Services that are based on digitally available data, which was collected and analysed in advance via a comptuer or machine. This data (such as production data) provides the potential to create numerous new kinds of services such as Smart Services (see below). These, in return, can lead to the creation of new Business models and create new opportunities for monetization. One Basic example would be the following: Collected production data provides information on the wear and tear, workload and defects of a production line – based on this information, maintenance planning can be improved and production line downtime reduced.

What is a Smart Service?

A smart service is a service that aggregates and processes usage- or context-related data generating from digitally connected physical objects (so-called smart products) to create an added value. This added value can be in the form of intelligent control options or the adaptation and optimisation of functions. The added value created by smart services can also be noticeable elsewhere, for example only on side of the actual service user. The smart product is a neccessary prerequisite for the smart service. It can be used by each of the partner involved in the value-added-chain but it also combines their competencies and recources, activities and service results, thus creating a cooperative service performance. The data sent by the smart product is collected by a software solution and analysed to trigger an action based on that data or to make an action-based decision – this is the actual smart service. Actions or process steps that would normally have to be carried out by human operators are handed over to the combination of smart product, the software solution in use and data analysis procedures. In the long-run, this simplifies and accelerates processes and activities.