Foundation of German-Chinese Research Platform SILO

The German-Chinese research project SILO (chin .: 丝 silu for Silk Road) creates the structural prerequisites for the establishment of a global research, project and training platform in the production technology environment. Thanks to numerous cooperations with German companies in China, equivalent project services in the fields of competence as well as market research were carried out.

Intelligent installation line in Industry 4.0 Demonstration and Innovation Centre in Suzhou.

Intelligent installation line in Industry 4.0 Demonstration and Innovation Centre in Suzhou. © Markus Breig/ KIT

Project objective

The objective of the funding project was to structurally build the German-Chinese research platform SILO (chin.: 丝路 silu for Silk Road) and to expand research activities in the production technology environment in China. The focus was on intensifying the cooperation with Chinese research partners with the objective of jointly applying for and working on research projects. The aim was to establish the close contact between the German and Chinese researchers which was required for this. In this context, a new organisational, spatial and legal infrastructure was needed to secure long-term commitment in China and the cooperation with Chinese researchers.

Funding announcement
Design and preparatory measures of German universities to establish joint research structures with partners in the Asia-Pacific research area.

Partner region / country

Life span
1 January 2010 – 31 December 2015

The subjects of SME association research, German-Chinese research cooperations, further education and training of employees, a student exchange programme and a feasibility study for a learning factory will be discussed in cooperation with Chinese universities and international (German and Chinese) companies.

Use of the results

The expansion of the production technology research platform SILO and the creation of the KIT China Branch have brought about organisational structures and led to new findings to establish these structures. The implementation of the work area “Education” of the SILO research platform included the formation of the German-Chinese training centre. Training concepts and training materials for 30 individual training sessions were developed in the defined competence areas of production management and supply  
chain management.

Sponsor acquisition has been very successful in the last few years. Numerous cooperations with German companies in China were agreed to perform equivalent project services in the competence areas as well as market research. By creating further training offers and setting up the learning factory, important steps for the prospects of economic success were added to the structure of the research platform. The feasibility analysis revealed that companies have high demand for further training measures in the area of Industry 4.0.

Added value of international cooperation

Office of the KIT China Branch in Suzhou Industrial Park (80 km West of Shanghai) © Markus Breig/ KIT

The three strategic KIT pillars (research, education, innovation) are implemented in cooperation with Chinese universities and international (German and Chinese) companies. In the field of research cooperations, cooperations with Chinese universities are increasingly planned and implemented. Specifically, contacts and projects with Soochow University (SUDA), Xian Jiaotong Liverpool University (XJTLU), Shandong University, Hong Kong Univeryity of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Tongji University (CDHK) have been set up.

Outstanding results and achievements of the project:

  • International student exchange (10 students per year)
  • Production technology training offer for companies in China
  • Design and set-up of a learning factory relevant to “Industry 4.0”
  • Taking into account of organisational framework conditions and foundation of an association

Partner institutions

  • Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), wbk Institute for Production Technology
  • Suzhou SILU Production Engineering Services Co., Ltd. (China)
  • Tongji University (China)
  • Hong Kong University for Science and Technology (China)
  • Tsinghua University (China) Jiaotong University (China)
  • Zhejiang University (China)
  • Zhejiang University for Applied Science (China)
  • Dong‘nan University (China) Suzhou University (China)

DLR Project Management Agency | European and international collaboration
Nicola Hartlieb
Tel.: +49 228 3821 1409

wbk Institute for Production technology
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gisela Lanza
Tel.: +49 721 608-44017