Digitalisation is reaching into every area of our lives at bewildering speed. But where is it all heading? The people at the TÜV NORD GROUP don’t just have their gaze firmly set on the digital future. They’re also helping us navigate in the right direction. This also means that we have to assume responsibility for the environment and our society – and take this into account in all our decisions.
IT: DIGITAL TESTING ASSISTANT. “The Digital Testing Assistant is an innovation project with which we’re pursuing a clear goal: to create a useful tool that will make the jobs of people working at TÜV NORD easier. Our product is a combination of mobile app and knowledge database which simplifies the very labour-intensive testing and certification process – from the audit and drafting of the report through to the exchange of information with colleagues. Collaboration within the audit team should be smooth and the flow of information optimised.
Our employees would ideally be working with the Digital Testing Assistant already, but its development is a highly complex affair. No standards currently exist for a product of this kind. And we have ambitious requirements. We want a solid digital tool that will protect highly sensitive data and is extremely user-friendly. Which is why we’ve chosen to work closely with the inspectors, developing the tool step by step and in an agile manner. This means testing it, responding to their wishes and changing direction, if necessary, even in the middle of the process. A sustainable digital transformation means more than just switching from the familiar paper documentation to using software. For this reason, we’re working to define the aim of every single task and developing the tools we need to achieve these aims efficiently. We’ll succeed if this development takes place in close consultation with the future users.”
Christoph Zurheiden, TÜViT
project manager for the “Digital Testing Assistant”
Dr. Karsten Zimmermann, DMT
Geo-engineering & exploration business field
NATURAL RESOURCES: SAFEGUARD. “In our business, there’s basically nothing new about the digital transformation. Our Safeguard monitoring platform has already proved its worth on very many occasions, for example for seismic monitoring in mining and infrastructure projects – anywhere that building, restoration or renovation work takes place. We use sensors to measure even the tiniest movements or vibrations for our customers as a way of monitoring their projects. Some measurements are taken hourly, some at 500 Hz, i. e. 500 measurements per second. The data are so detailed that we can distinguish on the Safeguard website between relevant movements on the construction site and external factors like, for example, an passing lorry. We’re concerned not only with recording relevant data, but also with their analysis and visualisation. After all, they need to be as succinct and meaningful as possible to allow our customers to make reliable decisions based on immediately available information, even if they don’t have the specialist knowledge themselves. One of our key challenges is to prepare initially meaningless columns of numbers in a way that is both easy to understand and informative.
And it goes without saying that our employees should also benefit from digital technology. That’s why we’re working on augmented reality apps and integrating them with HoloLens glasses with which our engineers and inspectors can immediately see where which sensors are installed and which mode they’re in, even on an unfamiliar construction site. This is our next step into the future. And we’re already taking it.”
AEROSPACE: VIRTUAL LAB. “Our Virtual Lab is a groundbreaking online platform which we’ve developed specially for the global aerospace market. This tool permits any customer to carry out, monitor and control space flight tests remotely from anywhere in the world. It’s available around the clock and spares customers the expense of coming to us. What our users particularly appreciate is that the Virtual Lab can deliver valuable forecasts in advance of the test. This allows them to work on solutions before they carry out the complete test sequence from A to Z, potentially saving them a great deal of time and expense, especially for gigantic space flight projects. The biggest challenge we face is to reduce complexity and organise over 1,000 different test instruments in a way that allows us to localise every single fault.
In developing the Virtual Lab, we deliberately opted for a lean start-up, an agile method for the development of the Virtual Lab to ramp up both the speed and the quality of the development. Thanks to this method, we’ve used every unforeseen event and obstacle to hone and optimise the Virtual Lab – while the project was still running rather than just at the end.”
Manuel Dominguez, ATN
Chief Digital Officer
Margareta Spajic, TÜV NORD Bildung
TRAINING: CARE FOR THE ELDERLY 4.0. “With our digital learning platform, we at TÜV NORD College are offering an innovative training path for the geriatric care profession. Anyone who signs up as a trainee doesn’t need to attend the college every day. This is because everyone receives a tablet on which the learning modules, videos and further information are available at all times. But, you might ask, don’t the trainees just exploit this new-found freedom to laze around? Well, no, quite the reverse: they’re highly motivated and enjoy learning independently. They feel right at home in the digital world. This might also have something to do with the fact that the platform was developed not by programmers working alone but also with input from the trainees. A lot of the content was put together by the trainees themselves under the guidance of the head of the specialist seminar for geriatric care, Sandra Kottewitz.
To give the training a clearly defined framework, Sandra Kottewitz combined the e-learning phases with actual on-site classroom teaching. Praise for this concept has come not just from the trainees but also from professional circles. And we’ve already moved on to the next idea, which is to use Virtual Reality applications. These will allow the users to practice work processes virtually before testing them directly on real people. It’s important for us for the focus to be on people. We’re using digital technology to make life easier for everyone – caregivers and the elderly alike.”
INDUSTRIAL SERVICES: DIGITAL MONITORING SYSTEM. “We’ve developed the Digital Monitoring System so that we can use sensors to monitor plants and components that are subject to mechanical stress, such as bridges, pipelines or cranes. It’s always been the task of TÜV NORD to use regular inspections to prevent potential damage before it occurs. But this has traditionally required the inspectors to physically enter the plants and inspect places that are otherwise hard to reach. Our idea is to install sensors at critical points of the plant so that it can be monitored almost seamlessly. Live data will be sent to a data centre for analysis and visualisation every minute or even faster. If a vulnerability is detected, the person responsible for the plant will then be sent a text message or an e-mail to which they can then choose how to respond.
And the special thing about our system is that it’s modular. Which puts us in a position to flexibly adapt the measuring technology to customer needs. To achieve this, we review every single development step with experienced TÜV experts, partners and customers. Alongside our current pilot project – a gantry crane in the port of Hamburg – we’ve launched other projects, for example with one of the world’s biggest shipbuilders. Our system has recently won the German Excellence Award for 2019 in the Digital Services B2B field. This is a great honour, which has spurred us on to do more.”
Dr. Dalibor Jerinic, TÜV NORD Systems
Project Manager for Digitalisation and Innovation
Frank Jergus, TÜV NORD Mobilität
Head Car Dealership & Repair Shop China
MOBILITY: LIVE-EXPERT / CHINA. “With our Live-Expert technology, we’ve introduced an innovation into China that offers enormous advantages, especially for the booming used-car market and car banks. We’ve made it possible to value cars digitally by app – virtually instantaneously and irrespective of where the vehicle is. The app will help virtually any employee inspect a car: a member of staff in the damage centre guides their colleague on the ground and takes pictures that will then be used in the report. They then look at the screen to check for defects or to confirm that the car is in immaculate condition. The car dealership promptly receives a digital report confirming the vehicle’s quality. This is crucial especially for banks, as this is the only way car financing can operate based on accurate data. This is a first for China. There was one aspect that took us about a year to develop: as communication software, Live-Expert is subject to particular requirements, so, to meet these requirements, we developed a separate version for the Chinese market.
It’s fantastic to have been able to combine the best of two worlds: the speed and daring of the colleagues in our partner organisation in China and the precision and high standards brought to the collaboration by our German colleagues. This is an unbeatable combination in the digital competition environment.”