The concept of TBO (Time Between Overhauls) might well soon only be found in old technical manuals and technology archives. It indicates how long an engine may be used before it is overhauled and parts have to be replaced. Digital tools and new analytical methods increasingly mean that parts no longer have to be changed or serviced in line with strict schedules but only need servicing when it is actually necessary.
“Rigid maintenance schedules will soon be a thing of the past,” predicted Christian Frey, project manager in the Digital Analytics team. They are in fact no more than average values that apply for all users – whether their haul trucks (for example) operate mostly on the flat or mostly on slopes. In future, sensors will be used to monitor the actual condition of individual components. The engine control system and the MTU connectivity tool ‘Go! Connect’ will transmit sensor data either to MTU or direct to the customer. “The experts in our Customer Care Centers can monitor and analyze these data and use them to recommend when customers should carry out which maintenance operations or exchange particular components,” explained Frey. At the same time, MTU specialists will be able to develop models that predict how long an engine component will function reliably under given operating and ambient conditions.
Cutting down on fuel and maintenance costs
However, the benefits that these sensors and analytical techniques deliver are not limited to maintenance requirements for individual components. “We can use these data to help our customers operate their drive systems as efficiently as possible,” explained Tobias Weiss, team leader for analytics in the MTU Digital Solutions department. For example, MTU engineers can spot when individual engines within a fleet are using more fuel than others or when individual components wear faster – and they can tell the customer why that is happening. The fleet operating within the British Intercity Express Program is already seeing the advantages generated by MTU analytics specialists who monitor the condition of the 122 railcars involved. And in the mining sector, an Australian mine operator is set to have its vehicles monitored by MTU as from this coming summer.
“These concepts are taking us into a new era of maintenance techniques and we aim to get the benefits to all our customers in the near future. Most important, it means customers will save money but it also means they can be sure their MTU systems are performing at top efficiency,” concluded Weiss.
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