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Digitalization and mechanical engineering

2/12/2019 | Words: Lucie Maluck | Pictures: MTU

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In any one minute, 38 million WhatsApp messages are sent worldwide.  Order a product privately on-line, and it will be delivered to your door the next day – in future, even by a drone.  The 4th most popular car in the US is now the Tesla 3. Digitalization is not some future scenario – it's here now. And Rolls-Royce Power Systems, a company with a hundred-year heritage in mechanical engineering, is in the thick of it.  

The change Rolls-Royce Power Systems is going through is not just about its product portfolio and moving from being an engine maker to a solutions provider in drives and power generation that uses  hybrid technologies and microgrids. A big shift is also taking place in services and the general approach to work. Digital Solutions, for example, the new department for digitalization, employs some 60 members of staff from 12 different nations who work together using agile methodologies. Their mission is the high-speed creation of new digital products that bring major benefits to MTU customers, particularly in the service segment, and they do so using  'short sprint' working approaches in close cooperation with start-ups. “By linking up digitally to our plants and systems in the field, we can monitor them better, analyze the data coming from them more precisely, and thereby enhance the performance of our products. In other words, the customer receives the optimum service from our company,” explained Vice President Head of Digital Solutions Jürgen Winterholler, who steers digitalization at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. 

His team for example developed the new ‘Go!’ platform. Dataloggers transmit the relevant data to platform  Here, the information is processed as needed so it can be utilized by customers and MTU specialists alike. “The new platform combines field data with all the other additional data needed like maintenance schedules and technical documentation,” explained Hubert Maier from the MTU Digital Team. Depending on the application involved, operators and fleet managers can access the data for their assignments and plan action accordingly. 

Digitalization underpinned by new work methods 
The new work approaches demonstrated by the MTU digital team are increasingly being adopted in other parts of the company too: Hierarchies are getting flatter, working times more flexible, and office environments have become brighter, friendlier places to work in. Moreover, staff are cooperating more intensively with their colleagues in other departments and forging partnerships that bring in fresh ideas from outside. “That's the best basis for finding the cutting-edge digital solutions that will strengthen our customers,” explained Winterholler. The ultimate goal is for Rolls-Royce Power Systems to free up its customers so that they can devote their energies to their core mission – be it to run a ferry or train service or generate power – without having to worry about the technical specifics of their products. 

Applying everyday digital comforts to mechanical engineering   
A key priority is to bring to the realm of mechanical engineering the digital applications that people benefit from in their everyday lives. “That's what our customers want, and what we expect of ourselves,” emphasized Winterholler. 

The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.

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