(2017/04/01) Bad Neustadt an der Saale. When it comes to the future of mobility, German drivers probably do not think of the Rh?n region straight away. But Bad Neustadt on the river Saale in particular has become a major driver of innovation in the automotive industry, especially with regard to electromobility and vehicle interiors. In addition to Bad Neustadt's role as Bavaria's first model city for e-mobility, the rapid growth of the automotive supplier Preh has also made a significant contribution.
The inauguration of the new Research and Development Center at Preh's headquarters in Bad Neustadt marks an interim highlight. The specialist for driver control systems and battery management has invested a total of 12.5 million euros in the project. The modern design of the building complex offers space for around 400 high-tech workplaces on a covered floor space of 2,350 m2 and a gross floor area of around 8,200 m2.
The first groundbreaking ceremony for the new R&D center took place in early October 2015. As part of the investment project, 170 new employee parking spaces have been created and the logistics facilities at the site modernized. With a construction phase of around eighteen months, the time frame was ambitious. One of the building challenges was, for example, building stable foundations on the alluvial deposits of the river Saale. Concrete piles up to 18 meters in length were therefore driven into the ground before the foundation stone was laid.
Christoph Hummel, the President and CEO of Preh GmbH, explained during the inauguration ceremony: "Our new development center symbolizes Preh's great market success and dynamic growth since the takeover by the Joyson Group in 2011. With our new capacities at the development division, we have not only set the course for future innovations and new market growth, but also secured the future of our headquarters in Bad Neustadt. My special thanks go to our investor Jeff Wang, without whose support this large-scale future-oriented project would not have been possible."
Jochen Ehrenberg, who is responsible for product development and production operations, said: "With its inspiring, modern architecture, our new development center creates the right working environment to set free creativity and the power of innovation. That is also an additional argument for recruiting highly qualified personnel. We compete for the best engineers in the automotive industry, and this new building underlines our attractiveness as an employer."
The “Technikum” is a window into the future
A focal point of the new building is the so-called Technikum, which represents a window into the future. It is located in an inner courtyard surrounded by office structures and gives the appearance of a "transparent factory”. Among other things, plastic injection-moulding processes are tested at the Technikum before getting the go-ahead for serial production. In addition, process mechanics in the field of plastic and rubber technology are trained, students supervised and Preh's internal further training courses are held at the Technikum.
Preh CEO Christoph Hummel is convinced that the new building also represents progress with regard to Bad Neustadt's urban development: "Our new development center completes the building development in the south-east of the company's site and fits harmoniously into the landscape down to the meadows of the river Saale.
Andreas Theilig from the architectural office Kauffmann Theilig & Partner added: "In order to achieve a harmonious overall impression in terms of height and appearance in the landscape of the Saale, the building in the south was designed as a four-storey structure which only transitions into a five-storey structure to the north."
Preh puts much emphasis on both a modern and a comfortable interior design. "Innovation needs light and space: the generous exposure to daylight via the facade makes a significant contribution to a pleasant working atmosphere. Flexible protection against the sun regulates the exposure to daylight and solar radiation, while the temperature of the rooms is controlled by heating and cooling coils”, explains Theilig.
Preh products are now already in use in a variety of vehicles around the world, from control units for battery management in BMW electric and hybrid vehicles to multi-function switches for steering wheels in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. A part of the automobile future is being developed at Preh's new R&D center.