The ARTS expertise4innovations campaign will not only highlight one of Airbus’ technological innovations in the worlds of space or aviation, as photographed by Wolfram Scholl, but will also include a series of blog articles setting out how ARTS uses its expertise and innovation to drive customer projects forward and explaining how the featured, innovative technology can be applied to other related industries.
Wolfram Schroll – An industrial photographer, driven by passion
Wolfram Schroll is an industrial photographer for Airbus,
among other activities – © Wolfgang Schroll
Wolfram Schroll, from Hagen in North Rhine-Westphalia, successfully turned a hobby into a career. At the young age of 19, he began a traditional apprenticeship as a photographer and founded his own photographic studio at the age of 25. Initially, he would photograph anything that appeared in front of his viewfinder – models, architecture, products, and much more. However, a job in the field of industrial engineering inspired him so much that he decided to specialise in industrial photography around twelve years ago. “I love the outstanding subjects that industrial activity offers – the noise, the heat, the opacity, the endless production lines and the straightforward people who you meet – they’re all simply unique,” he explains. He now works as an industrial photographer, with clients including major corporations such as Airbus, Siemens and Bosch. However, small and medium-sized enterprises in the fields of mechanical engineering, the steel industry, medical technologies, the chemical industry, industrial research and development – and, of course, aerospace – appeal to him as well.
Sometimes, when working on major projects, he spends weeks travelling through Germany and Europe, sometimes alone, sometimes with an assistant. His travels have even taken him as far afield as America.
As an industrial photographer, he creates visually appealing, symbiotic and realistic depictions of manufacturing processes, industrial robots and workers. He views his work as an individual art and, with his photography, he alone is responsible for the visual image of the company’s industrial work. For some of his customers, his photos define the visual language of their entire corporate communications and pop up over and over again at many different locations – from interior decoration through to current brochures or annual reports. Wolfram Schroll does not have any professional role models; if he did, he might begin to imitate them, which would not be in his clients’ interests. Naturally, before he begins work on a project, there are briefings and customer requirements; however, the visual concepts for his photographs mostly arise in the environment and atmosphere of the shoot itself. For that reason, it is very important to visit the location of the shoot in advance. During the shoot itself, there is often no time for moments of inspiration, as the work is often highly stressful and the production process has to follow a tightly-defined routine. This was also the case during the photo session for Airbus’ innovation department.
Industrial photographer, Wolfram Schroll, at work at Airbus – © Wolfgang Schroll
expertise4innovations with Airbus and ARTS
At the time, Airbus Innovations was not yet integrated into Airbus’s branding strategy and was still known as Airbus Group Innovations. Wolfram Schroll was surprised to learn how broad a spectrum of activity was involved behind Airbus’s efforts to innovate. The purpose of the corporation’s innovation projects is to develop technological breakthroughs and to push the boundaries of technological performance in order to support industrial innovations in the various business within Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, and Airbus Helicopters. The network of research and technology laboratories of the aviation giant is organised on a global basis, and innovation projects reflect all stages in the value chain, from product design through to process simulation, auxiliaries and consumables, manufacturing processes, production systems, materials handling, assembly technologies, surface technologies, and reprocessing. Airbus’s research and development department is not just responsible for aviation, however: the corporation also pursues research in the fields of wind energy, automotive manufacturing, mechanical and industrial engineering, transportation, shipbuilding, and civil engineering. However, the focal point of research efforts remains composite technology with an emphasis on dry fibre preforming, process techniques for duromer systems, adhesion and repair of carbon fibre components, thermoplastic process technologies, and multifunctional materials development. In 2016, Airbus invested three billion euro in research and development, and makes further use of state funds to support research, thereby helping the space and aviation sectors to progress further. One location for these research efforts, where ARTS also supports Airbus, is the Centre of Applied Aeronautical Research in Hamburg. This is one of the newest laboratories where Airbus undertakes research. ARTS has been working alongside Airbus since the company’s earliest years, with a relationship that dates back to the year 2000, and ARTS’ experts have already participated in the most diverse range of research projects. Among other things, they perform ground-based and in-flight testing of prototype and production helicopters, arrange thermal analysis of carbon-fibre reinforced plastics, or perform calorimetric examinations.
Due to the plethora of research options at Airbus, this photographic project was also a favourite of Wolfram Schroll’s. The major project requirement was to create new image material for Airbus using its current innovation projects, with the aim of using these picture to raise the company’s profile in the research sector. The process started with a test shoot and long tours of the company’s nine laboratories in Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. During this shoot, the photographer experienced some truly extraordinary things, seeing scientists in protective suits that recall science fiction, radar echo chambers that resemble outer space, robots undertaking repairs, virtual reality, the technical internals of space satellites, acoustic laboratories, and much more.
Wolfram Schroll in Airbus’s acoustic laboratory – © Wolfram Schroll
3D-print testing at Airbus as the subject of a photo – © Wolfram Schroll
The challenge was always to convey innovation in the form of a picture. “In the digital space, more than anywhere, it really isn’t straightforward,” confirmed Wolfram Schroll. Despite these challenges, this project was successfully able to capture the essence of the scenes with a great deal of skill. ARTS is proud to be able to use the pictures that were created in our expertise4innovations 2018 calendar, and in the new experise4innovations blog category, we will be providing monthly insights into the shots featured in the calendar and the circumstances that inspired them.