Motorenfabrik Hatz and Sontheim Industrie Elektronik collaborate

Motorenfabrik Hatz and Sontheim Industrie Elektronik collaborate on a joint digital project – Engine Maintenance of the Future


Within the context of the joint project called KIM – Künstliche Intelligenz zur Motorinstandhaltung (Artificial Intelligence for Engine Maintenance). In the coming years, digital solutions will be developed that will enable engines to predict maintenance cases based on usage and automatically request the appropriate service.

Operators of mobile machinery are benefiting from digital solutions which make their machines more productive, efficient and convenient. This is a vision that Hatz and Sontheim want to make a reality as part of their ambitious and groundbreaking joint KIM project. This collaboration between the two companies underscores their aim of being pioneers in the advancement of algorithms using artificial intelligence. Together they plan to create digital products and services for the mobile machinery market in this way. The corresponding application of the project’s results in additional drive markets is conceivable.

Intelligent Maintenance Solutions – Smart Maintenance

KIM stands for Artificial Intelligence for Engine Maintenance. “At the heart of the project is the development and implementation of precedent-setting algorithms. These enable real-time information on the engine’s condition as well as a precise forecast and thus the planning of necessary maintenance measures according to requirements,” says Dr. Maren Hellwig, who is responsible for Digital Business Development at Hatz, when describing the demanding objective. Engines equipped with this intelligence will also be in a position to autonomously request necessary maintenance and replacement parts as well as service capacities. This considerably increases machine availability and reduces or avoids unplanned outage and repair times.

Maintenance is therefore no longer carried out reactively after the occurrence of damage or preventively in accordance with a specified interval but prescriptively – this means at a time when it is actually necessary. “The algorithms required for this are designed and tested without preference for any particular technology. The research results and the solutions being developed can be implemented for a multitude of drives,” explains General Manager Bruno Sontheim.

Maximizing the Operational Readiness of Engines and Machines

These intelligent, digitally connected engines provide machine operators with a high degree of security, maximize the availability of machines and drives, and reduce shutdown periods to a minimum. The fact that a machine can no longer be used in the critical phase of a construction project, in the worst case compromising the deadline for completion, is a thing of the past thanks to the results of this project. The machine with its intelligent engine has an early warning system for maintenance cases, for example via the operator’s fleet management. The engine can be maintained as required, even before the machine reaches the construction site. This also reduces maintenance costs, as the service support point already knows in advance which component needs to be replaced or refurbished. This does away with laborious fault diagnosis.

Promotion of Innovation Potential

The fact that the project has great potential with regard to, for example, the megatrends of construction site 4.0 and smart farming is something that has been recognized by the Bavarian research grant. The KIM project is being supported by the collaborative research program of the Bavarian State Government with the maximum grant rate of 50 percent. The funding certificate for Hatz was presented in person by the Bavarian Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Rural Development and Energy, Hubert Aiwanger, during his visit to the headquarters in Ruhstorf, Lower Bavaria, Germany.

The Best Possible Project Partners

Hatz and Sontheim are pioneers in their respective areas of expertise and are combining their strengths to realize genuine innovative advancements in the joint KIM project. Sontheim is a specialist for automation, diagnostic and connectivity solutions, above all for mobile industrial applications. The German company from the Allgäu region is a market leader in the development and production of diagnostic systems in agricultural engineering. Hatz has long been synonymous with innovative drive solutions. The longstanding innovation strategy of the engine manufacturer provides for the consistent digital connection of its own drive portfolio and the development of corresponding innovative digital products and services.

The collaboration between the companies extends beyond this joint project. The two partners will soon be working together strategically on the digitalization of the mobile machinery systems relevant for the companies.