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“Machine ECG” to Protect Environment

Planned maintenance avoids interruptions, yet there are more resource-saving, efficient solutions according to scientists at the Institute for Integrated Product Development (BIK), University of Bremen. For example, the “machine ECG”. That is the working title of the system they are currently creati

The full title of the research project is LongLife - New business models for an extended use of technical systems based on a simple, decentralized condition assessment and prognosis of the remaining service life​. Alongside BIK as a research partner and consortium leader, five companies are involved are development and application partners: Aimpulse Intelligent Systems (Bremen) – a spin-off from the University of Bremen, CoSynth (Oldenburg) – a specialist for embedded systems, DESMA Schuhmaschinen (Achim) – manufacturer of production systems for shoe companies, encoway (Bremen) from the Lenze Group with its digital DOCK ONE innovation laboratory, as well as the associated partner EFAFLEX Tor- und Sicherheitssysteme (Bruckberg).

The three-year project has a total scope of around 1.7 million euros and is being funded with 1.24 million euros by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the frame of the Resource-efficient Circular Economy – Innovative product Cycles (ReziProK) initiative. The project s being accompanied by Project Management Jülich (PtJ), Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Mobile Assessment Station

Usually, machine components are swapped prematurely at regular intervals and are then disposed of or recycled. This is done despite the fact that some of them could still function for a long period of time. This especially applies to parts subject to wear, such as bearings, springs, or belts. On the other hand, premature failure of the individual parts also occurs often despite regular maintenance, which leads to expensive, unforeseen system stops. The reason: The condition of many components can only be determined seldomly or with great effort and there is still a lack of business models for a more economic and ecological usage of parts.

The project consortium is developing a decentralized, mobile assessment station with which the remaining service life of individual machine components can be assessed. The station will also be used for the early detection of wear and tear and possible defects. On the basis of two application cases, the system is to show that decentralized determination of condition with a prognosis of the remaining service life can lead to a longer usage period.

Quick, Real Assessment of Component Condition

Using the most up-to-date sensor and information technologies and the software developed within the project, a real assessment of the condition of the observed components and their remaining service life is to be possible in the future. In this way it will be possible to decide if the components will be used for a longer period of time and if it possible to waive the implementation of service staff. Additionally, advice for emergency operation mode until the next service is to possibly be provided.

With this approach, prognosis models based on artificial intelligence (AI), which are expanded by means of company data and experiences, are developed for the analysis. In addition to the assessment station and a prognosis platform, the partners are working on reference business models. These are founded on the prognoses and include the support of access to data from others who are involved in the process, such as component manufacturers or system suppliers. One of the goals is to allow for the further usage or rather repeated usage of components – so-called cascade utilization. The new system will make sustainable behavior with regard to maintenance even more interesting in an economic sense. 

“Higher Resource Efficiency in Production”

“Today, most of the common processes concerning the maintenance of technical systems place their focus mainly on the early exchange of components for the benefit of production safety and controlling,” says the head of BIK, Professor Klaus-Dieter Thoben. “The composition of new methods and tools now increasingly allows for a more precise documentation of the condition of technical components, and above all more reliable prognoses of their remaining service life. With the simultaneous inclusion of business aspects, the LongLife System is to create further potential for an improvement of resource efficiency in production – and furthermore, also form a further basis for new, innovative, data-based services in industrial value-adding networks.”

Further Information:


Dipl.-Ing. Thorsten Tietjen
LongLife Project Leader
Institute for Integrated Product Development (BIK)
Faculty of Production technology
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218 - 64870


The second LongLife research location: The high-performance gate from the Project partner EFAFLEX is ready for action at BIBA – Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics at the University of Bremen. Photo: Thorsten Tietjen / BIK