The History of the IFA
The Institute of Production Systems and Logistics was founded in 1966. Its roots, however, reach back to much earlier times. As far back as 1877, Prof. Hermann Fisher was offering a four-hour lecture on the “establishment and design of workplaces and factory systems”. This topic remained part of the production engineering program of Professors Friedrich Schwerd, Werner Osenberg, and Otto Kienzle. In 1945 Friedrich Schwerdtfeger, who had previously worked as professor of manufacturing methods, machine tools, and factory operations at the technical university in Breslau, was appointed to lecture on “factory systems”, to which the subject of “machine tools” was added two years later. By 1954 Hannover Technical University, as it was then called, had set up a Chair of Machine Tools and Factory Systems, which Prof. Schwerdtfeger was invited to take over. He remained in charge until his death in 1961.
Prof. Bühler replaced Prof. Schwerdtfeger, but only on a temporary basis until a permanent replacement could be found in the face of Dr.-Ing. Hans Kettner in August 1965. After completing his studies in electrical engineering in Vienna and Berlin, Dr. Kettner obtained his PhD at the Department of Industrial Engineering and Machine Tools at Technical University of Berlin under Prof. Kienzle. Then he took on a number of managing industry positions, ending up as manager of the Siemens-Schuckertwerke electric motors plant in Würzburg. It was primarily due to the initiative of Prof. Kettner that the Institute of Production Systems and Logistics was set up and he became the institute’s first director in October 1966. The Institute’s space in those early days was very limited – at first in the university main building and later a nearby building in Judenkirchhof. In 1973 the institute was able to move to a new building at Callinstrasse 36. One of Prof. Kettner’s first projects was to expand the series of lectures on factory planning, factory operations, and machine tools, which were later supplemented by plant engineering and industrial planning with their corresponding exercises and seminars. At the same time, he developed the four research fields of factory planning, factory operations, handling technology, and plant engineering. Factory planning was mainly concerned with general methods of planning plus methods for determining space requirements. This information found its way into a comprehensive book entitled "Leitfaden der systematischen Fabrikplanung" (Guidelines for Systematic Factory Planning) that was published in 1982. For the first time, which brought about work on factory operations included, extensive studies of production throughput times, which later led to the Hannover Funnel Model and the load-oriented release of orders. The focus of handling technology was research on sorting and feeding of small, difficult-to-handle parts. Despite the, initially, modestly equipped laboratory, new solutions for untangling, sorting and feeding were developed and later patented. The plant planning section was set up in 1972 by Prof. Georg Redecker, the institute’s first chief engineer, with the focus on the reliability and availability of interlinked production systems. In addition to the book mentioned above, the work of the Institute gained further recognition through a book published in 1976 that was entitled "Neue Wege der Bestandsanalyse im Fertigungsbereich" (New Inventory Analysis Methods in Production), numerous other publications, the report volumes of the so-called Factory Systems Colloquia and a total of 23 dissertations. In June of 1979, at the age of 69, Prof. Kettner was able to hand over a widely recognized institute with a scientific staff of 23 to his successor Dr.-Ing. Hans-Peter Wiendahl.
Following his studies in Aachen and at MIT in Cambridge, USA, Dr. Wiendahl obtained his PhD and wrote his habilitation thesis under Prof. Opitz. Before being invited to take over the institute, he held managerial positions at Escher Wyss GmbH in Ravensburg, first as head of planning and quality and later as head of paper processing machine engineering. Due to their continuing relevance, the main themes established by Prof. Kettner maintained their significance and underwent further development in line with the changing boundary conditions in production and the newly available tools of data-processing and communication technology that were appearing. The Funnel Model developed by Kettner and Bechte, as a general production sequence model for batch goods processes, was further developed during this time. Its theoretical and practical usefulness had proved its worth not only in the scope of production control for shop-floor manufacturing operations, but also for procurement and storage processes, the logistical evaluation of factory layouts, and the planning and control of interlinked production and assembly systems. Expanding the model for areas that are upstream of production, i.e. design and production planning, is the subject of ongoing and planned work at the institute. The departure of Prof. Redeker and his new position as Environmental Protection Commissioner with the Lower Saxony state government, marked the end of the Plant Maintenance Group as a separate entity and it was integrated into the expanded Handling and Assembly Engineering Group. The open position was taken over by Dr.-Ing. habil. Lothar Schulze in October 1982 as it was redefined by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering for the specialized area of “planning and control of storage and transport systems.” Following his studies in Hamburg, Dr. Schulze obtained his PhD and wrote his habilitation thesis under Prof. Baumgarten. Then he took up a managerial position at Jungheinrich AG. Prof. Kettner remained close with the institute, both personally and professionally. However, his sudden death in September 1982 left a painful, difficult-to-fill gap in the IFA’s structure.
Since then, the institute has been split into two independent areas of research and teaching ran by Prof. Wiendahl and Prof. Schulze, respectively, in essence covering the fields of factory planning and control and their integration into the logistical production and supply chains.
Dr.-Ing. habil. Peter Nyhuis became head of the institute in April 2003. Prof. Nyhuis studied mechanical engineering at Hannover University, obtained his PhD at the Institute of Production Systems and Logistics in 1991, and wrote his habilitation thesis on the specialist theme of production logistics in 1999. Then he became a partner of Siemens AG, SPLS Supply Chain Consulting and was responsible for supply chain management and supply chain design.
Besides development projects like the definition of pan-group process standards and the development of guidelines for supply chain design, Prof. Nyhuis was responsible for implementing numerous internal and external projects aimed at optimizing the logistics in procurement, production, distribution, and order management. Even though Prof. Wiendahl is no longer head of the institute, he still acts as a consultant. In May 2004 the IFA, together with five other production engineering institutes of Hannover University, moved to the Production Engineering Centre in Garbsen located just outside of Hannover (see Map). The information on the following pages describes the responsibilities of Prof. Nyhuis.