Week 12/2021

Digital twin ensures quality

The digital component twin can then be evaluated by engineers and workers to quickly identify where any faults may have occurred in the process.
The digital component twin can then be evaluated by engineers and workers to quickly identify where any faults may have occurred in the process.
Aerospace components must be manufactured with extreme precision. Sometimes a deviation of just micrometers makes a part unusable. This means that even small details are enough to cause faults. But determining the exact cause after the fact is usually too time-consuming and expensive – so far. That's because the start-up nebumind is developing software that monitors the quality of components during production, makes it possible to identify what has triggered a fault, and thus monitors the production process.

The software collects production data along the entire manufacturing chain, made available by sensors and machines during the production of a component. These can be dozens of sensors and machine parameters, some of which are in the gigabyte range. Based on this data, the software builds a digital component twin – a 3-D point cloud of the component – which can be evaluated by engineers and workers. In this way, it is feasible to quickly identify at what point in the process errors have occurred.

The innovation adds a new perspective to the field of IoT solutions. Software that collects and analyzes production data is already available – but so far only with the aim of making the production process more efficient or improving machine utilization. nebumind, in contrast, focuses on the components themselves and provides a tool with which production data can be analyzed for component quality independently of the process step.

Less scrap, lower costs

It is at least as important that the software supports agile manufacturing. This has been the process so far: even if the engineers have found out what is causing a fault in the component, the machines are often not adjusted accordingly. The fear that this would have negative side effects on other steps in production is too great, and the effort to omit such side effects through new qualifications is too great. In most cases, the fault is accepted and the component is repaired or discarded. The software from nebumind, on the other hand, can detect such side effects and analyze how an adjustment will affect the rest of the process, helping to reduce scrap and production costs.

Rapid traceability – even during flight operations

What's more, the software manages all collected data. This is helpful in later flight operations. If damage then occurs – for example, a hairline crack on the wing – it is possible to quickly trace back to find which production step this is attributable to and what other components from the batch could also be affected. Until now, this data has had to be painstakingly compiled from Excel sheets, which can take months. Thanks to nebumind's software, this can now be done within just a few days or even hours.

nebumind can be found on the Ludwig Bölkow Campus in Taufkirchen, Bavaria, which is financed by Airbus, Siemens and IABG. The potential is considerable: in aviation alone, the software is relevant for around 70,000 machines. And it can also be further developed for deployment in the automotive and medical technology sectors – once again demonstrating the spillover effect that aerospace has on other industries.