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Rolls-Royce uses digital twins in Power Systems Customer 4.0 strategy

The Power Systems unit has begun using technology from Iotics to collect data points for engines in the field and build digital simulation models

The Power Systems unit of Rolls-Royce is building asset tracking based on digital twins. Using technology from Iotics, Rolls-Royce plans to create digital twins of its in-field assets, and receive real-time event insights across customer, supplier and partner boundaries.

The Power Systems unit of Rolls-Royce provides high-speed engines and propulsion systems for ships, power generation, heavy land, rail and defence vehicles, and for the oil and gas industry, as well as diesel and gas systems and battery containers.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems chief IT digital officer, Jürgen Winterholler, said: “Iotics’ technology is helping us realise our vision of placing our customers at the heart of everything we do, exploiting digital twin technology to deliver the best service and to enable our customers’ businesses. Together with Iotics we are building digital solutions around how they work for our customers’ needs.”

Rolls-Royce began building out its data analytics capabilities over the past few years. In 2017, it launched the R2 Data Labs, which uses advanced data analytics, industrial artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to develop data applications, which the company said unlock design, manufacturing and operational efficiencies within Rolls-Royce, and create new service propositions for customers.

Last year, it started using the aviation analytics software in IFS Maintenix to offer a systematic method of exchanging and accurately updating airline engine life data to optimise the interval between engines being removed and sent for overhaul. Within its aviation engine business, the company has developed a strategy called IntelligentEngine, to support greater numbers of airline passengers by wrapping a service around the engine, supported by intelligent sensors. 

The Power Systems unit of Rolls-Royce began working with Iotics in May 2018, to complement its digital products and services – one of which is the customer service tool called Go! Manage. The company plans to use Iotics to help it achieve its Customer 4.0 vision, based on having a single source of truth for asset information.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems said that digital twins enable it to share and exchange data and controls across the entire lifecycle of its assets, which will help it develop new products and services for customers, partners and suppliers.

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Digital twin technology has the potential to drive operational efficiencies across the industry, including increased service life, proactive maintenance, enhanced performance and responsive service provision, reducing environmental impact at every level from engine to network.

Winterholler added: “Customer Service 4.0 means seeing the world the way your customers do, collaborating with them, their customers, and our service partners, to deliver greater efficiencies, enhanced insights and new opportunities, without compromising on the quality and security they expect from Rolls-Royce Power Systems. We have chosen Iotics to deliver the comprehensive secure interoperability we need to make Customer Service 4.0 a reality.”

As well as the use of digital twins in the Power Systems business, the company has also been using virtual reality to train customers in its aviation business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Through its IntelligentEngine strategy, the company has begun providing virtual reality instructor-led distance learning courses, which it said offers a comprehensive overview of the construction, design and operation of the Rolls-Royce BR725 engine that powers Gulfstream’s current flagship G650 business aircraft family.

According to Rolls-Royce, after completion of this comprehensive two-day training course, participants will be able to service the engine and undertake non-routine maintenance.

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