Research and Development
Research is a great asset for an industrial nation such as Germany. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research invests some 79 billion euros in education, research and science every year.
Materna maintains close ties with various research and development partners and regularly participates in international research projects. University of Dortmund is a long-standing cooperation partner and provides the scientific foundation.
The focus is on core topics that are fundamentally important for Materna, such as IT management, cloud, big data, device networking and M2M communication, so that research results can ultimately be incorporated into one’s own products and services. We build know-how on technologies and application domains, test the latest technological trends with regard to the development of new business fields and, for example, also develop software prototypes which we test in the underlying application domains (proofs of concept).
Materna has its own research department. Under the guidance of experienced employees, we also train junior IT staff in targeted research projects. As a result, Materna continuously introduces a good two dozen computer science students to attractive topics. Upon completion of their studies, the students join our specialist departments to enable knowledge transfer and exchange of experience.
Our current research projects
Research Project I2PANEMA
More digitalization for the port industry
More and more industries are turning to digital technologies to make their existing processes more efficient or to develop new business models. Innovative technologies can also create new potential for optimizing seaports and inland ports. However, digitalization is just getting started in the port industry: although a lot of data is collected during operational procedures, there is still a lot of potential for achieving increased efficiency. The managers responsible for these areas are facing the challenge of identifying the most suitable solution approaches for their individual needs from the multitude of options that are being offered. The I2PANEMA research project aims to create a reference architecture for this and, for example, to show how data analyses, especially in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT), can improve existing procedures.
Data provides insights
Technologies such as the IoT generate huge quantities of data which, for example, can be used to control systems or to optimize processes. Complementary data analyses create the basis for implementing new data-based services and assistant functions in port environments. This project aims to show how companies can use this data as the basis for implementing innovative measures for controlling traffic which can in turn reduce emissions or optimize energy efficiency. I2PANEMA also intends to help integrate existing and often heterogenous IT systems as it is only through optimized data exchange that it is possible to advance digitalization for port environments efficiently.
Within the context of the I2PANEMA project, specific scenarios are being designed to demonstrate the benefits that digitalization can deliver. For example, applications are being planned for the fields of noise reduction, traffic management, energy consumption, emissions monitoring and localization.
Many ports, IT and logistics companies as well as universities from several European countries are involved in the I2PANEMA project which is part of the EUREKA cluster programme ITEA. This consortium is headed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics and Materna, which are both based in Dortmund, Germany. The experts from Materna are contributing their specialist knowledge in the field of digitalization as well as their experience with IoT. The project is planned to continue until the year 2022. The German part of the project is being financed by funds from the companies involved and by funding from the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
This international cooperation also contributes towards the German seaports and inland ports in the project becoming active partners in the formation of a future international smart port network. This will enable companies to optimize existing logistics chains and to shorten shipping times while simultaneously reducing the emissions generated by goods transportation.
Augmented reality for shipping
Innovative applications for augmented reality in inland ports and seaports
As digitization becomes ubiquitous in the world of work, it is hardly going to sidestep inland ports and seaports. That is why InnoPortAR was launched, with the purpose of examining how the deployment of augmented reality (AR) can facilitate workflows at inland ports and seaports. Possible use cases will be assessed in detail in a range of test environments. Augmented reality is an enhancement of the real-world experience using computer-generated information. Materna’s role in the project stems from its know-how in the field of augmented reality.
The project’s research partners are exploring the practical and technological implications of deploying AR in a port environment. Practical concerns include, for example, content visibility and limitations of the AR devices, but also how much information to provide to staff without overloading them. Technological issues regarding requirements in the port environment or the performance of the data glasses in different lighting and weather conditions also need to be addressed.
The main focus of the research will be on cognitive ergonomics and data presentation, the application fields of data glasses and input possibilities in the area of port technology and machine learning.
The use of AR can help to optimize handling and stuffing processes in the port environment and to ease the workload of staff by means of harmonized human-machine interaction. Altogether, the project will support the introduction of innovative technologies in the port environment and boost the use of IT within the logistics chains. Deploying AR will not only make port jobs more attractive, but also cast German ports in a trailblazing role in Europe while reinforcing their key function for the German economy.
The research consortium comprises the following partners: Duisburger Port (overall coordinator), Materna SE and Materna TMT GmbH, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, and the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics and Services CML. Further project partners are Haeger & Schmidt Logistics GmbH, Eurogate Technical Services GmbH and Container Terminal Dortmund GmbH.
The project is scheduled to conclude in autumn 2021.
Intelligent Truck Parking
Designing and testing a data platform
Trucks lined up alongside motorways and other major roads pose an increasingly serious problem. The unabated growth in volume of HGVs was already identified some time ago as a potential safety hazard on German roads, and it had been hoped that more strictly regulated driving times would help to improve safety. However, one consequence of these regulations has been a concentration of trucks at petrol stations, lay-bys and carparks, where a lack of space means that many vehicles end up parked illegally and dangerously.
The Intelligent Truck Parking (ITP) research project attempts to tackle this congestion problem. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Traffic and Digital Infrastructure and Materna is a member of the project consortium.
The project’s principal aim is to develop and implement a data platform that will enable companies and their drivers to plan and schedule routes and rest breaks efficiently. Constantly updated data on the capacity of all lorry park facilities forms the basis for satnav and logistics systems, which source their information either directly or indirectly from exchange platforms like the MDM (Mobility Data Marketplace). This information allows drivers to plan proactively for rest breaks and goes some way to dealing with the increase in heavy goods traffic.
As system integrator, Materna is also in charge of the technical project management. We are also developing the majority of software components. The project is due to be completed in autumn 2020.
Our finished research projects
Heart research in the Medolution project
For persons suffering from cardiac insufficiency, physicians are increasingly implanting so-called left ventricular support systems, also known as artificial hearts. Often the artificial heart even becomes a permanent solution, because not enough real donor hearts are available. These patients then need medical supervision for their entire life.
However, telemonitoring, which can be used for monitoring purposes, is still in its infancy. The three-year, publicly funded research project Medolution aims to remedy this situation and make everyday life easier for patients who have to live with such an artificial heart. In addition to various industrial partners, Schüchtermann-Schiller Clinic from Bad Rothenfelde and the Hannover Medical School are important project partners
The Materna experts support the research project launched in fall 2015 with their expertise in the areas of cloud-based processing of big (medical sensor) data and the automated networking and control of medical devices.
Information concept for crises and disasters
Providing coordinated assistance in crisis situations is a very demanding task for all parties involved. Authorities and organizations with security tasks must make their decisions dynamically on the basis of a large amount of information.
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the K3 project is developing a suitable information and communication concept.
As a basis, the real-time information must be appropriately analyzed, evaluated and prioritized. Social media is important in crisis situations and must be meaningfully integrated into a modern communication concept.
To ensure this, Materna is developing a web portal together with other project partners. It will contain special portlets that extract information from social networks and process it visually and interactively in the shortest possible time, enabling quick and easy analysis. Users of the portal are thus provided with individually configurable user interfaces in web browsers.
Access authorizations are controlled by "Role Based Access Control" and enable dynamic role distribution per deployment. Materna Liferay is the portal software and Vaadin is used to implement the user interface.
Building as a Service
Intelligent building infrastructures in the building as a service project
Modern buildings are equipped with various sensors and actuators as part of building automation and building management systems (BMS systems), for example for air conditioning, lighting, ventilation, heating and security. Up to now there have been numerous individual solutions for the various areas of application of BMS, which are operated in parallel. Also, the standards in communication technology are still too diverse, so that sensors cannot communicate with each other and cannot exchange data.
In future, this will be possible via uniform standards and sensors. In the international research project Building as a Service (BaaS) Materna and project partners are developing a prototype of a software platform that can be used to control building control systems, for example for ventilation, heating, temperature and light in office complexes. Here Materna uses its know-how in the areas of IT service management as well as sensor integration and communication.
In March 2015, the BaaS project received the ARTEMIS-ITEA Co-Summit "Exhibition Award" in Berlin for a miniaturized model house, with the help of which the solutions developed in the project can be clearly illustrated. The research project will run until the end of 2016.
Cloud networking in the project EASI-CLOUDS
Cloud computing has become an integral part of IT. Nevertheless, there are still technical challenges, such as the lack of uniform service quality across all software levels of cloud structures. The services offered by the three layers of infrastructure, middleware and software are generally not coordinated, since the solutions used often come from different manufacturers. This prevents clouds from being networked together and is one reason why cloud computing is still not sufficiently accepted by end users and companies.
The European research project EASI-CLOUDS (Extendable Architecture and Service Infrastructure for Cloud-Aware Software) was located in this environment. In cooperation with the Charité Berlin, the project partners conducted research on neuroradiological diagnostics in order to be able to calculate and evaluate computationally-intensive MRI scans for brain diseases more quickly with the help of networked clouds. The underlying cloud architecture was realized with OpenStack. The research project aimed to develop an open cloud infrastructure that ensures and supports interoperability on all layers of cloud computing.
Materna developed a prototype for layer-spanning monitoring of cloud services in the project and was thus able to build up comprehensive knowledge for OpenStack technology. The EASI-CLOUDS project, which has since been completed, received the "Excellence Award for Business Impact" at the ARTEMIS-ITEA Co-Summit in Berlin in March 2015 – an award for particularly market-oriented research and development activities. The research project ran from December 2011 to August 2014.
Development of SOA-enabled components in the OSAmI project
The aim of the OSAmI project (Open Source Ambient Intelligence) was to develop and test an SOA-enabled component platform that would also support the smallest devices and be made available as open source software.
The German subproject focused on the application area of health care. This should support interoperability, maintainability and reliability as well as the automated configuration and management of medical devices and service systems. The development of a demonstrator to support the ambulatory cardiological rehabilitation of heart patients showed the usability of the results. The telemedical project enabled heart patients to undergo cardiologically monitored endurance training at home, which was virtually monitored by doctors. Vital data such as ECG, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation were monitored by the system and transmitted to the doctor in the clinic. The TU Dortmund University, Materna and the Schüchtermann Clinics in Bad Rothenfelde were involved in this sub-project.
The technical basis was the platform specified by the OSGi Alliance, on which applications and services can be executed in the sense of an SOA. It is combined with web services, especially DPWS / WS4D, to enable distributed, dynamically configurable, vendor-neutral and device-independent solutions.
The project ran from 2008 to 2011.
Development of a service-based infrastructure in the Sirena project
Sirena (Service Infrastructure for Real Time Embedded Networked Applications) was a European research project aimed at developing a service-based infrastructure for real-time embedded network applications. The web service-based technology developed in the Sirena project is interesting for a wide range of applications - including building and industrial automation, automotive electronics and medical technology.
Materna's experience as a systems integrator ensured from the outset that both manageability and interoperability were taken into account when defining the framework. Infrastructure services have been designed and specified to provide basic management services and mechanisms, as well as administration functions to customize and manage the applications.
The project ran from 2003 to 2005 and was awarded the "ITEA Achievement Award" in 2006.