MRO 2.0 – Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

Upgrade instead of repair

Jan. 01, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2022

Gas turbines in power plants are in continuous operation and must be able to withstand enormous loads, so continuous monitoring and maintenance play a major role. Maintenance is carried out in special repair facilities. While the individual parts of the turbine can be repaired, for the most part, the repair measures also involve the partial renewal (upgrade) of individual components.

A summary of the main objectives of the joint project:

  • Reduce repair times to cut costs.
  • A better understanding of the occurrence of wear and tear to enable better planning of maintenance intervals, but also continuous improvement of the actual turbine components.
  • Extending the lifetime of turbine components to conserve resources.

The use of new technological approaches, such as the digital twin and additive manufacturing (AM), aims to fundamentally redesign the repair process of a gas turbine. Additive manufacturing allows a more precise manufacturing process and thus also an improvement of the material and finally of the actual product (gas turbine with its components). With the digital twin, it is possible to digitize a product (with all its components), but also the entire creation and maintenance process.

The resulting digital representation can then be combined with the operating data of the power plant. This allows a holistic view of the product and the production process and, in addition to the all-encompassing analysis of the data of the product and the production processes, also allows the testing of improvements in the simulation. This turns maintenance into: “Upgrade instead of repair”.

Key research questions in the project:

  • How can turbine components during the maintenance process not only be repaired but also additionally improved with the help of adaptive and additive manufacturing methods?
  • Related to the special field of application of gas turbines: Which extensions and new approaches of adaptive and additive manufacturing processes can be achieved?
  • Which existing concepts of digitalization can be applied to the maintenance process of gas turbines to make it more dynamic?
  • Which concepts for digitalization are missing or would have to be extended in order to be able to capture the maintenance process of gas turbines holistically?
  • How can new manufacturing processes be tested using simulation in the digital twin and which approaches to validate the simulation results can be applied?
  • What possibilities does simulation in the digital twin offer to improve the maintenance process flow?

Heterogeneous technologies for data communication

Open communication systems also play an essential role in digitalization. They are needed to enable data to be freely exchanged between different locations (offices, factory sections, and operating sites). Fraunhofer FOKUS always pays particular attention to “heterogeneous” approaches and technologies. This openness allows different technologies to be brought together (interoperability). Interoperability does not only take place at the level of connection technologies but must also be implemented at higher levels of data communication. This heterogeneity also supports future developments of digital systems.

The contribution of Fraunhofer FOKUS summarized in the joint project:

  • Investigation of the expandability of existing approaches and concepts of communication systems in connection with digital twins (product and process twins!)
  • Investigation of approaches of digital twins concerning heterogeneity.
  • Development of approaches, concepts, and a platform for the access of the digital twin to the data of the machines, in the maintenance process, and also in the operation of the turbines.
  • Investigation of the applicability of digitization concepts within industrial production to industrial areas with manufactory character.