Digital Innovation Hubs Digital Innovation Hubs

PROFACTOR Cognitive Robotics and Factory HUB

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Contact Data

Coordinator (Research & Technology organization)


Coordinator website

Year Established



Im Stadtgut A2, 4407, Steyr (Austria)


Social Media

Contact information

Andreas Pichler

Contact information

Christian Wögerer



The Cognitive Robotics and Factory Hub is a non-profit Hub with currently 6 Institutions from Research (University and non-University Institutions), Industrie and Consulting. The Goal is to provide services and solutions to Austrian (and central Europe counties) in the field of Robotics and Factory Solutions. A roadmap is currently in development with a focus on continuous extension of the network and proceeding further services.

The Hub and its members support local Industry and mainly SMEs in the field of robotics and factory related issues with following actions.

  • Hosting Workshops and Meetings (3 -4 a year) to inform SMES about newest developments, possibly actions in digitalization, experience and partner exchange. The main purpose of these workshops is creating a sustainable network.
  • Creating consortia’s including SMEs and initiating Research, development and transfer projects
  • Providing or mediation of services in to SMEs to apply for such projects in the field of digital transformation in Robotics and factory issus by:
    • Project development and management services
    • Knowledge transfer design and support for implementing
    • Innovation management and RTD activities
    • Consultancy on funding facilities
  • Providing services for training, skill improvement and education and giving SMEs access to pilot facilities of the HUB partners.

All these activities are non-profit activities. The Hub and its participants orientate their activities towards objectives that are in the public interest; it is not oriented towards making a profit. Any random profits or profits from individual projects must be used again in the interest of the Hubs's purpose and not distributed to the shareholders.

Preliminary Details of the Hubs infrastructure, its partners and the provide services could be found on the web page:

Coordinator PROFACTOR: 

Since its foundation in 1995, PROFACTOR has been a leading industry's point of contact for production research in Austria. In this role, PROFACTOR sees itself as a link between science and business, and documents this through seamless value creation from basic research to industrial implementation.

For PROFACTOR as a research institute, the applicability of the research results in the companies is an essential criterion in addition to the scientific orientation. In the course of industrial implementation, research results are transferred into tailor-made products and services in industrial projects together with our customers.

With two strategic research fields, PROFACTOR sets essential cornerstones and trends in the production of the future:

  • Industrial Assistance Systems
  • Additive Micro/Nano Manufacturing

The two research fields are based on important research topics that are internationally visible and competitive in the scientific and industrial fields. Furthermore, the topics are unique within the Austrian research landscape and there are clear interfaces to non-university institutions in particular, which can also facilitate synergy effects.

Austrian Institute of Technology:

The AIT is Austria's largest Research and Technology Organization (RTO) and belong to the first league worldwide in many of our areas of research. This makes us a powerful development partner for the industry and one of the top employers in the international scientific scene.

In the HUB the Center for Vision, Automation & Control (Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Andreas Kugi ) and the Center for Technology Experience (Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfred Tscheligi) are involved.

Universität Salzburg:

The Center for Human-Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary research group at the University of Salzburg. Established in 2005 as research unit at the former ICT&S Center, currently approx. 40 researchers study the interplay between humans and computers in order to enable desired interactions and explore desirable futures. The Center is directed by Professor Manfred Tscheligi who is a widely recognized expert in the field.

Zukunftsakademie Mostviertel:

The networking of knowledge and the exchange of experiences can provide the necessary impetus for new ideas - the Mostviertel research network offers the suitable framework for this.


MIND CONSULT & RESEARCH aims at excellence in service culture, quality and relationship with its clients. Our team is well experienced to meet costumers´ needs by tailor-made solutions. Furthermore we are embedded in an international knowledge pool of experts to assure a competitive edge.

  • Project development and management services
  • Regional and urban development
  • Knowledge transfer design and support for implementing
  • Innovation management and RTD activities
  • Consultancy on funding facilities


In 2007 in Gunskirchen, Upper Austria,  BRP-Rotax GmbH Co KG agreed to build an innovation centre of the next generation with a focus on specialised innovation and skills development.

The RIC is best described as facility which houses a unique collaborative network of individuals who combine their superior theoretical know-how and practical knowledge to create the engine technologies of the future. It is a place where innovation is born; where new competences are developed with enthusiasm, enjoyment, and with the highest level of professionalism helps develop  cutting-edge solutions and new skills to help create challenges for the future of the economy, such as industry to be prepared for Industry 4.0, and production of the future in "Lot size 1".

As the innovation and educational centre of the region, the RIC also contributes substantially to improving standards of work and creation of new jobs. The RIC centre is also the focus of development and improvement of technological knowledge which is the driving force in economic development.


Link to national or regional initiatives for digitising industry

The Hub and his partners are very well integrated in regional, national and European initiatives related to Digitalization. Selected Examples are listened below. Additional to this there is also a strong connection on project level. The Hub or partners of the HUB are involved in the listed activities.

Regional Level: Upper Austrian Research GmbH (UAR) is the leading organization for non-university research of the federal province of Upper Austria and a key player in the research, technology and innovation policy. With its associated companies UAR promotes innovative solutions at the crossroads where fundamental research meets applied research and provides access to top-quality R&D capacities. Innovation creates competitiveness creates added value and jobs. Business Upper Austria, the business agency of the Upper Austrian government, is an innovation driver and a partner for location development & settlement of companies, cooperation and public funding advisory services. As a one-stop shop, we assist domestic and foreign companies by supplying tailor-made services and support them from the initial business idea through to market success.

Additional to this the HUB is linked to he S3 Startegy og Upper Austria. The S3 Strategy of Upper Austria (and also the next program) has the pillar "Industrial production processes" which is in the focus of the HUB. One Example is the participation in the stratecig S3 project MED UP and in the Vanguard Initiative.

National Level (Platform level): The GMAR, the Austrian Society for Measurement, Automation and robotics and since the field of robotics has the following objectives:
In the field of robotics, the Robotics Department is the association for networking Austrian actors from academic and non-academic research as well as industry and end users.  The main focus of the work of the Robotics Department is the initiation of events on the subject of robotics, information for members, creation of critical masses and development of an Austrian roadmap on the subject of robotics.
The focus of activities in the initial phase is on the organisation and implementation of events (Austrian Robotics Workshop, Austrian Robotics Week, events on current and future robotics calls for tenders), communication measures (press relations, website and info folder), contributions to strategy development (preparation of the roadmap incl. reports) as well as activities on transnational coordination (meeting with euRobotics or the EU Commission). The Association Industry 4.0 Austria - The Platform for Smart Production - was established to foster collaboration among all stakeholders and facilitate new technological developments and innovations in the context of digitization (‘Industry 4.0’) and thereby to find sustainable solutions to challenges faced by companies, research institutions and society as a whole.

The Platform facilitates the implementation of digital transformation in Austria and unifies the Industry 4.0 community. It aims to secure and create highly innovative industrial production and to boost quality employment, thus strengthening Austria’s future competitiveness.

The Platform considers Industry 4.0 a societal challenge that

  • can only be addressed by collaboration of industry, science, regional and national policy makers, associations, trade unions and NGOs
  • is driven by technological innovation, new business models, knowledge transfer and its widespread socially acceptable deployment and implementation

European Level: euRobotics AISBL (Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif) is a Brussels based international non-profit association for all stakeholders in European robotics. euRobotics builds upon the success of the European Robotics Technology Platform (EUROP) and the academic network of EURON, and will not only continue the cooperation but will also strengthen the bond between members of these two community driven organisations. Thus, leading towards the establishment of only one sustainable organisation for the European robotics community as a whole.
One of the association’s main missions is to collaborate with the European Commission (EC) to develop and implement a strategy and a roadmap for research, technological development and innovation in robotics, in view of the launch of the next framework program Horizon 2020. Towards this end, euRobotics AISBL was formed to engage from the private side in a contractual Public-Private Partnership, SPARC, with the European Union as the public side. The European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA) is a non-for-profit, industry-driven association promoting the development of new and innovative production technologies. It is the official representative of the private side in the 'Factories of the Future' public-private partnership.
The key objective of EFFRA is to promote pre-competitive research on production technologies within the European Research Area by engaging in a public-private partnership with the European Union called 'Factories of the Future'. The main objective of the Smart Factory HUB project is to improve framework conditions for innovation in the area of “smart factory”.
Therefore, the project’s goal is to develop R&D and business policy conditions for transnational cooperation in the manufacturing industry.
Result is improved cooperation between R&D and business where based on RIS3 (Research and Innovation Smart Specialization Strategy) centered model, quadruple helix partners will be oriented to find novel solutions in the following three domains: applying novel technologies, applying effective production process and applying effective human resource management system. SYNERGY aims at strengthening currently underdeveloped linkages, cooperation and synergies between companies, industry, research, intermediaries and policy makers in central Europe.  The project will analyse funded and finalised innovation projects and cluster institutions involved in projects into three key areas covering the most promising modern industrial technologies. These areas include additive manufacturing and 3D printing, micro- and nanotechnology-related processes and materials, as well as the industry 4.0 sector.

Project level: The flagship project MMAssist II (Assistance Systems in Production in the Context of Man – Machine Cooperation) has started on May 1, 2017.
The goal of MMAssist II is a fundamental research and characterization of assistance in a production context. Based on this, optimized assistance systems for future working places focused on the human worker („Human-Centered Workplace“) will be developed, implemented and evaluated in an industrial environment. Basis for the implementation are so called „Assistenz Units“ – which are modular components for assistance systems. Assistance Units are defined in a way that they can be applied to different application con-texts. The partners will implement a software framework with which Assistance Units can be dynamically configured to act as assistance system for a given application The EU-supported SYMBIO-TIC (Symbiotic Human-Robot Collaborative Assembly: Technologies, Innovations and Competitiveness) project created tools for robot-reluctant industries where current tasks and processes are typically considered too complex for automation. These included: a collision avoidance system, a planning and control tool to monitor and re-plan assembly tasks, intuitive robot control commands and a real-time worker support system, tailored to workers’ competence and skill levels, as well as changing assembly sequences.



Market and Services

Market sectors

  • Manufacture of machinery and equipment
  • Manufacture of electrical and optical equipment
  • Manufacture of transport equipment
  • Other Manufacturing

TRL Focus

  • TRL4 - Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment
  • TRL5 - Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
  • TRL6 - System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment
  • TRL7 - System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
  • TRL3 - Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept

Services provided

  • Collaborative Researchs
  • Concept validation and prototyping
  • Testing and validation
  • Voice of the customer, product consortia
  • Access to Funding and Investor Readiness Services
  • Mentoring

Service Examples

CobNet – Qualification Network for Cobots (Technology Transfer)

Client Profile:

The companies Welser Profile (profile manufacturer), Doka (formwork panel manufacturer), Miraplast (SME, plastic goods manufacturer), Rupert Fertinger (LE, Cooling System Manufacturer), Duomet, Fuchs Metall Technik, Seisenbacher, (all SMEs, Metall Processing ) have worked together with Profactor on a project funded by the Province of Lower Austria to introduce Cobots to companies. All the companies were interested in using cobots for future production tasks. In Addition to the development of demo applications and pilot systems, training and qualification methods for the introduction of technology were also developed.

Client needs

The companies had no experience with cobots and could not estimate their technological properties and potential due to the lack of know-how.

Provided solution to meet the needs

The companies were supported by Profactor in the evaluation of the application potential as well as in the definition, implementation and commissioning of the pilot installations. At the end of the project, 3 systems are ready for use and one system is in the phase CE Certification. Furthermore, 11 demo applications were examined and a technology evaluation center was set up by one of the partner.

More details:

Robotic acoustic inspection

Client profile:

Müller-BBM VibroAkustik Systeme is a manufacturer of manual acoustic inspection probes a systems to analyses the vibration and noise behavior of metal chassis components during the development. These system are provided worldwide especially for automotive OEMs and Tier1/2 suppliers.

Client needs

The manual executed inspection does not allow an exact rehearsal of a measurement. Furthermore, the number of measuring point is limited by the human capability in performing the tests. A test comprises the position of the microphone probe in specific distance and angel of attack to the inspection point / surface. Due to the complex three-dimensional shape for modern chassis parts (e.g. doors, bottom plates, etc.) it also needs iterative example to get valid result from each inspection points. Additionally the OEMs do not provide CAD-Models of the components cause they are often single prototypes. So a classic CAD offline programmed robotic inspection solution isn’t not adequate.

Provided solution to meet the needs

The provide software solution for a lot size one inspection without CAD data from the part was an integrated simple 3D Scanning Function in the preparation phase of the inspection process.  Here manual guide low cost 3D cameras will scan the part, which is fixed in a frame. In the next step this generated data are the base for an automatic path planning procedure to cover the part surface according to a user-defined grid.  The generated Robot program allows some adaptions and then can be executed automatically. This solution reduced the testing cost and allows a reproducible inspection much more inspection points even the part has been removed, treated or used in testing scenarios.

More details:

Robotic Screwing Assistant

Client Profile:

Magna Powertrain is a manufacturer of powertrain components for almost all car manufacturers worldwide. In the Engineering Center Steyr, these components are developed and produced for vehicles with smaller quantities.

Client needs

Requested was an automation solution for screwing axle covers to rear axle gearboxes. The OEM claims a high quality standard that could not be achieved only manually anymore. Therefore, this application should be economically automated even for the very small lots by a minimal remaining of the existing assembly process in the line.

Provided solution to meet the needs

The developed HW / SW solution was an, collaborative screw robot that can be used as well as in the line or as a stand-alone station. The system features are a robot base with retractable wheels, a collaborative lightweight arm, an electronically controlled screw spindle with collision detection. Additionally, the system is equipped with a 3D camera for component position detection and a 2D camera for detection of the screw head center. The programming takes place via a central PC user interface, which allows the programming of a screw point in less than 15s. The robot is manually guided to the screwing position, whereas the data for the screwing head detection the system acquire automatically. This means that the set-up time for new tightening sequences can be reduced to a minimum, even for non-experts.

More details:

TIM – Robots for Craft and Trade (Technology Transfer)

Client Profile:

For a selected region in Upper Austria, workshops and seminars were held with the Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce to identify the potential for cobots at 5 SMEs. The aim was to inform the companies about the technical possibilities and to identify potential applications. The companies were Wagner Kunststofftechnik (plastic parts), Pomberger (eyewear manufacturer), FDM (metal processing), Grafinger (sawmill) and Lidauer (carpentry).

Client needs

The companies had no experience with cobots and could not estimate their technological properties and potential due to the lack of know-how.

Provided solution to meet the needs

A joint technology presentation seminar and subsequent individual workshops were held with the companies to identify potentials and to identify pilot applications. On this basis first solutions, concepts and implementation proposals with costs were developed.

More details:

3rd-Hand Robot Assistant

Client Profile:

The Geschütze Werkstätte St. Pölten is an integrative enterprise with emphasis on metal and sheet metal processing, electrical assembly, control cabinet construction, printing and sign making, textile processing and general assembly tasks.

Client needs

In order to be able to support persons with only one arm also during assembly operations the persons should be get a mechanical assistant which can be used easily.

Provided solution to meet the needs

A robot system was developed that acts as a second hand for the worker. It holds down and positions parts. The system is programmed by using a new developed, central operating software, which can be easily configured by the user. With this solution, employees with severe physical limitations can now perform tasks that are more complex.

More details:

Robot Handling

Client profile:

IH Tech is a competent partner from the conversion of existing machines and plants to the commissioning of new concepts - the result: lower error costs, faster throughput times, higher quality, increased productivity.

IH Tech offers complete projects from solution finding and project planning to design, production and assembly up to the corresponding control technology.

IHTECH generates 65 % of its sales in the high-tech areas of automation, robotics and handling technology. These high-tech solutions and systems are developed by more than 20 IHTECH employees, which means that new developments, even long-term ones, are firmly anchored within IHTECH and are given high priority.

Client needs

Production of mass customized products is not easy to automate since objects and object positions remain more uncertain compared to mass production scenarios. Uncertainty handling motivates the application of advanced sensor-based control strategies, which increases system complexity of robot applications dramatically. The client needed a handling solution that is compliant to pose variations of parts and allows easy re-programming for new products. Furthermore, an enhancement of production equipment with a modular handling solution should further increase the level of automation for industries.

Provided solution to meet the needs

The developed solution is a robot handling system that carries out automatic bin picking of randomly placed parts. The solution is sensor based and encompasses a 3D measuring system, which takes 3D points clouds in which CAD models are aligned to complete missing gaps, determine the pose of the parts and extract process information like grasping points. Based on this scene analysis a process path is planned and a robot executes a collision-free action to transfer the parts to a well-defined structured place. The solution inherits sophisticated path planning and targets particularly on lifting and handling of heavy parts like crankshafts in the automotive industry. With this solution, the client was able to offer more functionalities and value creation to its customers and could increase its annual turnover and create more work places at the its site.


More details:

Flexible Quality Gate

Client profile:

BMW Motoren Steyr produces the most of the petrol and diesel engines for the BMW vehicle assembly plants. In total approximately 1.2 million engines are produced per year.

 Client needs

When mounting an engine the add-on elements like coolant pumps, generator etc. are connected manually via plug-in connections. These connectors are locked against loosening with locking clips. However, in case of the ramp up of a new engine type often incorrectly locking of plugs happens, so that they work electrically correct, but when the car is first in used on the road vibrations can cause an a  serve of the  incorrectly locked connector an lead to and vehicle failure. Since this usually happens during startup of new engine types, the error period relatively short. Therefore, a solution was need, which is flexible enough to be able to perform an assembly inspection at different locations and different products.

Provided solution to meet the needs

A robotic system was developed that can be deployed for various tasks in assembly control. It consists of a robotic arm with wheels, a collaborative robot and high-performance, high-resolution 3D-cameras. For programming, a software was developed which allows the programming of an he inspection task at a test point in approx. 1 min. The system was initially used to inspect plug latches and later to detect the location of the oil-filling cap. The conversion to a new inspection process can easily be carried out due to the design of the operators themselves and thus easily cover an ad-hoc arising need. Similarly, the system costs could be dedicated to several products, since the system can be used at various locations.

More details:


Organizational form

(Part of) Private organization



Number of employees


Evolutionary Stage

Fully operational

Geographical Scope



  • Horizon 2020
  • European Regional Development Fund
  • National basic research funding
  • National specific innovation funding
  • Regional funding
  • Private funding


Number of customers annually


Type of customers

  • Start-up companies
  • SMEs (<250 employees)
  • MidCaps (between €2-10 billion turnover)
  • Large companies, multi-nationals
  • Research organisations


Austrian Institute of Technology

Partner Type

Research & Technology organization


Universität Salzburg

Partner Type



Zukunftsakademie Mostviertel

Partner Type

Industry association



Partner Type



RIC - Regional Innovation Center

Partner Type

Large enterprise


Technological competences

  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Artificial Intelligence and cognitive systems
  • Augmented and virtual reality, visualization
  • Simulation and modelling
  • Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
  • Cyber physical systems (e.g. embedded systems)
Last updated: 04/07/19 17:03