HAMBURG, Germany—ContiTech A.G. is expanding its operations in Hamburg-Harburg, in northern Germany, to turn the site into a "tech campus" for a range of business units.
The site includes a new training institute for semi-skilled and unskilled employees, a digitilization innovation unit and a center of competence for plastics, Conti said in an Oct. 8 statement.
"The plant has developed from a former rubber processing site to a location where future mobility systems are produced for both on and off the road," said Peter Scholtissek, head of the Harburg location.
Despite the new focus on future mobility, Scholtissek said the traditional production of rubber compounds will remain an integral part of the plant premises.
"Rubber keeps the modern world in motion and is the key to pioneering developments and technical innovations," he said.
Recently added innovative clusters and smart solutions will help carry out a "structural transformation to Industry 4.0," Conti added.
As part of the move toward future mobility, Conti signed a partnership agreement with Hamburg last year to advance intelligent transportation systems.
The German group has been working closely with technology transfer company Tutech and the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) to develop "smart projects," particularly focused on the Internet of Things and cloud-based app development.
The aim is to develop solutions that add "a digital component" to the existing range of rubber and plastic-based products, creating the basis for new digital business models.
In the future, all global innovation and digitilization activities of the ContiTech business area will be coordinated by the new innovation center in Hamburg, the German group added.
The Harburg-based plant also is increasing the production of air spring systems which are currently fitted on trains operated by the largest local public transport company, Hamburger Hochbahn, Conti said.
ContiTech also is investing $2.6 million in further materials-related expertise alongside rubber processing. The group is developing and testing high-performance hose lines for electric vehicles at the plastics competence center in Hamburg-Harburg.
"There is growing demand in the automotive industry for high-performance technical materials such as plastics," Conti said.
Hose lines are required in modern vehicles for thermal management—i.e. the targeted heating and cooling of components such as batteries or electric motors—and increase the efficiency and range of batteries significantly.
Continental said its Hamburg location will be responsible for the central development of the hose lines for all production plants worldwide.
The technology group also is offering a training scheme to its semi-skilled and unskilled employees at the site, offering them the "state-recognized" vocational qualification of process mechanic for plastics and rubber technology.
Originally a Phoenix A.G. production site, the Harburg plant was acquired by Continental in 2004.
The plant traditionally manufactures products made of rubber, including sound and vibration insulation, conveyor-belt systems and specialist industrial hose systems.