On the road to MRO 4.0

Leading on from preliminary investigations to the main project "MRO 4.0"

Many industrial corporations are facing the challenge of a new, fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) – the digitization of production. In the course of this development, they have to increase their automation level, examine the use of human-machine support systems and ensure their value chain and especially physical production processes are linked into the opportunities offered by the digital world. The objective is to further increase productivity in order to remain competitive in the long term. This will be even more successful if old ways of thinking are thrown overboard, more than simply individual isolated solutions are developed and processes and interfaces are standardized. Lufthansa Technik has identified the opportunities and potential and has started looking fundamentally at introducing Industry 4.0 technologies in its work areas. 

  • 2016 MRO 4.0 Blade
    Lufthansa Technik is developing a concept for transmission of measured values to mobile terminals.
  • 2016 MRO 4.0
    Intelligently networked production where employees are integrated optimally in the workflow delivers benefits in terms of productivity.

The preliminary investigations that have been ongoing in this respect in the landing gear, engines and maintenance divisions since October 2015 under the direction of the innovation management department are now coming to a close. Partners in these investigations include the Helmut Schmidt University, ZAL, Hamburg's Zentrum für Angewandte Luftfahrtforschung (Center for Applied Aviation Research), the company Synergeticon and the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg. Potential application scenarios with high implementation potential will first be identified, analyzed and preselected. These will then be prioritized based on specific economic and technical implementation criteria. The results will be used as a basis for further production planning and for making decisions in relation to the interdisciplinary project cluster "MRO 4.0". The objective here is to implement Industry 4.0 applications by migrating to the Lufthansa Technik process landscape.

Among other things, Lufthansa Technik is developing a concept for transmission of measured values to mobile terminals (tablets), a tracking system with visualization in the area of internal logistics as well as a mobile phone application for visualizing order-related data. These demonstrators focus essentially on providing data on mobile terminals in relation to location and findings in order to support employees and avoid media interrupts between different IT systems. This will ultimately lead to improved networking of all the relevant stakeholders within production. These so-called assistance and support systems are ideal primarily for helping employees carry out their tasks in a meaningful and structured manner.

Support can either be virtual (as with collection of information or with documentation), physical (as in the case of component measurement or installation) or a combination of the two. All assistance and supporting systems aim to reduce errors in manual work processes and ensure a consistently high quality of work. This allows all entities involved (humans, machine, component) to be networked fully and in real time with one another and also allows the development of new knowledge-based services through the exchange of data. Intelligently networked production where employees are integrated optimally in the workflow delivers benefits in terms of productivity. The challenge lies in identifying the best possible combination of all of the strengths of employees (flexibility and creativity) and the strengths of automation (reproducibility and process reliability).

The identified "quick wins", in other words topics that allow profits to be earned without significant effort, will be implemented following the preliminary investigations. At the same time the quick wins act as a precursor for further introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies. Moreover, the identified topics with potential are to be transferred gradually to the main project "MRO 4.0" from the middle of 2016. One objective in this context is to elaborate cross-discipline concepts and solutions that can be exchanged between the departments. Meaningful technologies are to be introduced here in the medium term in relation to the Internet of Things and maintenance organized in a more resource-efficient manner in general. This can contribute significantly to securing production sites.