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16.04.2018 11:22

Hannover Messe 2018: New business models focussing on the availability of agricultural machinery

Melanie Löw Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

    Agricultural machines such as tractors and harvesters are associated with high costs and time-intensive maintenance for farmers. New business models, as developed by researchers of the Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK) together with partners from industry, could make life easier of farmers. It is not the agricultural machines being sold as products, rather only their availability for a certain period. For this purpose, the researchers are working on a technical system that detects the failure of the machines in advance and provides all information to service technicians.

    From 23 to 27 April, the project will be presented at the research exhibition booth of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate at the Hannover Messe (Hall 2, Stand B40).

    Many agricultural machines represent a huge investment for farmers and, in many cases, they are only needed just a few weeks each year. This could be remedied by novel business models whose commercial viability the Kaiserslautern researchers are working on. “The manufacturers of agricultural machines sell their customers no longer a product, but ‘only’ its availability as a service product,” says Thomas Eickhoff, who works at the Department for Virtual Product Engineering (VPE) at TUK as part of his PhD in the project ‘InnoServPro’.

    In doing so, the provider must ensure that the desired machine is 100% available to its customer within a certain booked period. “There must be no failure,” adds Hristo Apostolov, who is also involved in the project. In order to guarantee such availability from a technical point of view, the researchers are working in cooperation with other colleagues at the University of Kaiserslautern as well as with IT and telecommunications companies, providers of software systems, consulting companies and industrial suppliers. The agricultural machinery manufacturers John Deere and Grimme as well as the automation technology company Lenze provide the corresponding machines, devices and data for the development activities within the project.

    “In the project, we develop an overall system that monitors the machines in such a way that we recognize early on when a failure can occur,” explains Eickhoff. Sensors that provide the engineers with data about the condition of the machine components are used. In the case of a potato harvester, for example, they the conveyor belt is monitored and data collected. “We analyse this data in order to predict disruptions and failures of the conveyor belt in a timely manner,” Apostolov continues. Experts also speak in this context of a predictive maintenance system. With such a technology, the manufacturer is informed ahead of time and can, for example, ensure that a service technician takes care of the problem before the failure of the machine occurs.

    A further important factor for the realization of such availability-oriented business models is the so-called "digital twin" of an agricultural machine, which the Kaiserslautern researchers also develop within the project. “For tractors and other machines, there are countless possibilities for variation – and, depending on the needs of the farmers, they can be equipped with different accessories,” notes Eickhoff. “If there is a failure, replacement must be fast. But this is only possible if you know exactly which part is assembled where.” Using the digital twin, the researchers want to digitally store all the necessary data from individual components as well as repair instructions in a database. They are therefore developing an intelligent information management system in which all important information about the machines is put together in a user-friendly way. “There are large amounts of data, such as those of the sensors, which must be analysed and assessed and, for example, automatically sent to a service technician”, says Apostolov. In the future, the system should enable manufacturers to keep track of things more easily, for example to prematurely learn of a failure. In addition, service technicians also will quickly know along with the type of the machine, its individual configuration and which spare parts are needed accordingly.

    TUK researchers from the following institutes are involved in the ‘InnoServPro’ project: Virtual Product Engineering headed by Professor Dr. Jens C. Göbel (formerly Professor Dr. Martin Eigner),
    Manufacturing Technology and Production headed by Professor Dr. Jan Aurich, Measurement and Sensory-Technology headed by Professor Dr. Jörg Seewig, as well as Machine Elements, Gears, and Transmissions headed by Professor Dr. Bernd Sauer.

    The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the research programme ‘Innovation for the Work of Tomorrow – Research for Production and Services of the Future’ and supervided by Projektträger Karlsruhe (PTKA).

    More information about the InnoServPro project and the consortium can be found at:

    For enquiries:
    Karl-Gerhard Faißt
    Institute for Virtual Product Engineering
    Tel.: 0631 205-3965
    Email: faisst(at)

    Thomas Eickhoff
    Institute for Virtual Product Engineering
    Tel.: 0631 205-3686
    Email: eickhoff(at)

    Hristo Apostolov
    Institute for Virtual Product Engineering
    Tel.: 0631 205-3787
    Email: apostolov(at)

    Merkmale dieser Pressemitteilung:
    Informationstechnik, Maschinenbau, Verkehr / Transport, Wirtschaft
    Forschungs- / Wissenstransfer, Forschungsprojekte

    Thomas Eickhoff (left), Hristo Apostolov and their colleagues are developing these new business models.

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    For this purpose, the researchers are working on a technical system that detects the failure of the machines in advance and provides all information to service technicians.

    Zum Download



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