Insights into industry: KEEN PhD students on a virtual visit at Merck

On 14.09.2021, Merck KGaA invited the KEEN PhD students to a virtual site tour. The event was organized by Dr.-Ing. Klaus Wekenborg, Senior Engineer at Merck, together with DECHEMA.  As partner of the KEEN platform, Merck is involved with several AI use cases in the project.

Ulrike Strobel from Visitor Communication guided the participants through the showroom of Merck’s Experience Center located at the headquarter in Darmstadt. She provided insights into the company's history and research and product portfolio of the three business units Healthcare, Life Science, and Electronics, respectively. A drone flight showed the 1.25 km² plant site: from production facilities, logistics halls, research and office buildings to the Innovation Center at Emanuel-Merck-Platz. Latter is the interface between the three units and is considered the driving force of the company. Dr. Andreas Bamberg, Executive Director - Process Development - Electronics, welcomed the PhD students and gave an introduction into Process Development at Merck. Advice for aspiring process engineers and data scientists was provided by Dr. Kutup Kurt, Head of Data Science - Process Development, who is responsible for various AI use cases in KEEN. Afterwards, Dr. Rolf Roth, Head of Data Science - Sector Data Office Electronics, who holds a doctorate in mathematics, described further examples and challenges from his job as a Data Scientist. He explained the relevance of data pre-processing and the obstacles to the use of data-driven modeling in process optimization. An interview with the Plant Manager, Martin Wichmann, rounded off the visit at Merck. After a presentation about the plant he is responsible for, the PhD students asked him about the acceptance of the usage of AI. The speaker was positive about AI-based decision-support systems and was excited about the upcoming developments.