Press release - November 23, 2020

CONTACT Software and partner develop innovative IoT solutions for the service business

Digitalization offers the opportunity to accelerate maintenance processes and to repair components in such a way that they run more efficiently and for longer. At the Werner-von-Siemens Centre in Berlin, CONTACT Software and partners are researching new powerful applications for practical use.

In Berlin, Siemens Energy repairs gas turbine blades of power plants from all over the world. This is where the project "Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul" - MRO for short - of the Werner-von-Siemens Centre for Industry and Science (WvSC) comes in. The research work focuses on new measuring methods and materials as well as product and process innovations for the service business. To this end, the alliance partners are developing new process chains in which the value-added steps are specified through digitization.

The project consortium is pursuing three primary objectives that are of benefit to equipment manufacturers and their customers: increasing productivity in MRO processes, avoiding downtime and enabling component upgrades during repairs. After recommissioning, the optimized components can increase the efficiency of a machine or plant, extend maintenance intervals or lead to lower emissions.

Starting from a smart inspection, additive manufacturing methods are used to exploit new designs and materials in the repair and maintenance of turbine blades. Coating processes optimized by simulations then provide the component with improved properties. For example, in order to operate a turbine blade at higher temperatures, it can be fitted with an additional hardening layer during repair.

Six industrial partners, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Technical University of Berlin are working together on the new MRO applications. "We are using Digital Twins to build flexible MRO process chains that trigger maintenance and repair measures quickly, in line with requirements and at optimal cost," says Ian Altmann, Project Engineer IoT & Industrie 4.0 at CONTACT Software, describing the project. "In order to support service engineers and workers in the best possible way, we merge data from various IT systems and provide the production plants with the necessary information".

The Digital Twin is used in various ways depending on the process step. When inspecting a component, it serves as a repository for 3D geometries, which are captured by 3D scanning. AI-supported damage analyses use 3D models stored in the Digital Twin and other measurements on the component to assist service engineers in finding the best repair measures. Simulation models stored in the Digital Twin help to design the coating processes accordingly.

After completion of the basic preliminary work, a test environment based on CONTACT Elements for IoT is built up in the WvSC laboratory. Here the partners evaluate the functionality of the Digital Twins with regard on the different use cases in the MRO process chain and the desired project results.

As in the other current WvSC projects "Electrical Drives" and "High Temperature Applications", the research work here again focuses on new materials, additive manufacturing and digitization in order to advance the change in production technology. The MRO project is also co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported with state funds from the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises.

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