On the road to MRO 4.0 with human-machine synergies
Mega-trends such as the digitalization of industry, also referred to as Industry 4.0, already define the working world. Renowned worldwide for making products of the very highest quality, German industrial companies want to – and have to – make sure that they do not miss out on the fourth industrial revolution. Germany Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel has also pointed out repeatedly how crucial digitalization is for the industry, and is giving Industry 4.0 top priority. Buzz words such as "digitalization", "artificial intelligence" and "smart factory" dominated discussions at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos as well.
Lufthansa Technik went to work on this trend years ago, determining the potential for individual units, initiating innovative projects, integrating new advanced technologies and revolutionizing work processes. Thus, on the road to "MRO 4.0" many intelligent machines and transformative technologies were developed and found their way into the units. Mobile devices, 3D printers, self-learning robots, drones and digital assistance systems (smart glasses) have become indispensable aids in diagnosis and repair procedures, design engineering and production.
Today, there is no division at Lufthansa Technik that does not make use of innovative new technologies: Whether VIP Aircraft, Original Equipment Innovation, Engine Services, Landing Gear, Components, Maintenance or Aircraft Overhaul – every product division uses these modern aids with their IT connections and new applications to enable fast data availability, highly accurate measurements, (remote) diagnoses and efficient repair and production of components. Without the use of these technologies, topics relating to the cabin of the future, digital capturing of ground support equipment, remote repairs and paperless maintenance would not be realizable.
In some areas, there is particularly high savings potential through the targeted use of artificial intelligence, i.e. self-learning machines and robots. This technology makes it possible to fully automate at least some test, repair and manufacturing procedures and to combine multi-stage work processes into a single process step. Intelligent automation technology not only helps prevent media discontinuities (transcription errors) but also makes maintenance and production processes more time-, cost- and resource-efficient while maintaining the same high quality.
On the road to MRO 4.0, it is important for Lufthansa Technik not just to develop, integrate and implement state-of-the-art technologies and processes on its own, but also to look at the bigger picture. That is why many of the company's divisions are further intensifying the exchange of know-how and targeted cooperation with manufacturers, start-ups and research institutions.
In the age of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation, certain tasks will disappear. But at the same time, many jobs with new profiles will be created. Intelligent machines will take over more and more difficult, monotonous tasks to relieve employees. And humans will continue to perform the work they do best. The professionalism of humans thus combines with the quality of machines to provide added value in the form of high product quality and efficiency – an ideal human-machine synergy in tomorrow's smart factory.