Research & Development


Competence Center WIRKsam designs innovative workplaces with AI

© WIRKsam
Shaping the world of work in the Rhenish textile and coal region with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) is the task of the WIRKsam competence centre, which companies and research institutions are tackling together.

About the WIRKsam Competence Centre 

For decades, lignite shaped the Rhenish coalfield, which is also one of Germany's traditionally important textile regions. Due to the approaching phase-out of lignite mining, the region is facing a structural change that represents a major economic, social and ecological challenge. This affects companies in a wide range of sectors and numerous jobs in the region. The WIRKsam competence centre is researching how this change can be achieved with the use of innovative technology and how attractive, innovative jobs can be created. The technological focus is on the use of artificial intelligence, which is one of the fields of action identified in the "Economic and Structural Program for the Rhenish Future Region" of the “Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier”.

Artificial intelligence is changing the world of work 

AI will change human work. As a result, it will also provide considerable opportunities in the working world of the future, for relief, further training and innovation. Because working with AI is not a technology-driven fate; rather, there is considerable potential for shaping it. This is where WIRKsam comes in. Together with various regional companies, research partners and IT enablers are developing prototype AI applications in an innovatively designed real lab in Hürth. Together with the technical development and testing of the AI solutions, the labor-science partners analyse and design the aspects of work for all people in the company. The basis is the MTO principle, according to which people, technology and organization are viewed holistically in their interrelationships.

The expert consortium ifaa, ITA and MASCOR and the participating companies 

Under the coordination of ifaa - Institut für angewandte Arbeitswissenschaft e. V. (Institute for Applied Industrial Science), research and practice partners are working together for change in the Rhenish coalfield. At ifaa and ITA (Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University), scientists are researching how work can be supported by AI and how both should be designed to do so. ITA contributes its expert knowledge in textile technology and textile mechanical engineering. The Institute for Mobile Autonomous Systems and Cognitive Robotics (MASCOR) at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences is responsible for the conceptual design and research of AI. Three IT companies are developing the AI systems, which are being tested in the everyday work of various application companies. Currently, nine companies are application partners for the development and testing of the AI applications; another six companies will follow in mid-2024.

You can find out more about the WIRKsam competence centre and all the partners involved at

The WIRKsam competence centre is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the "Regional Competence Centres of Labor Research" funding measure and is supervised by the Karlsruhe Project Management Agency (PTKA) (funding code: 02L19C600).

Cordially invitation to the online project launch on March 29, 2022

On March 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m., the WIRKsam competence centre will celebrate its project launch, to which WIRKsam cordially invites TexData readers.

The event will start with a greeting from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). After a speech by Professor Dr Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, futurologist Kai Gondlach will continue through the evening. Join in with questions and comments in a varied expert panel discussion!

The event will take place online. Please log in here to register and watch the livestream. Please notice that the event will take place in German.

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