Skip Navigation
smart services

Innovative solutions for our customers

smart services

Virtual Engineering – an instrument of the digital transformation

So this is what a meeting between development engineers could look like in future. Virtual Engineering is about reducing development time, hardware and expensive test series: Instead of the real crash vehicle, its digital twin drives against the wall - built from 3D data of extensive crash simulation calculations. “This reduces the development costs to a fraction of what is currently spent“, explains Erik Hilfrich, Team Manager in Application Technology at thyssenkrupp Steel. “What is more, we send data around the world, not bulky components. This facilitates collaboration with our international customers. We can, for example, examine vehicle crashes as often as required, in slow motion and at close range. This also allows us to better present our development work“. Hence, Virtual Engineering is also a tool that enables engineers to collaborate with customers and colleagues quickly and across national borders.


Data replacing material – a vision for the steel mill of the future? Volker Lang, Head of Digitalization & Architecture categorically rejects this scenario. “In our industry, things are a little different than in the automotive industry. Our customers have long since stopped buying only engineering skills, but also and above all high-tech computers on four wheels. We support this change by digitizing our core product steel. This means that we offer our customers – besides the classic material properties – also a higher service level, because our order processing has become more flexible. Therefore, data are also of central importance for us. It helps us to better meet customer expectations and to optimize both our products and our processes“.

A further step towards the smart factory: Augmented Reality

Augmentede Reality am Beispiel der smartform-App

The one thing that becomes clear at the locations of thyssenkrupp Steel is that digital transformation is an open-ended process. A process that innovators can initiate, but the implementation of which depends on the attitude and willingness to change of each individual employee. Getting the employees on board, sharing knowledge with them and dispelling their reservations are the most important tasks in every solutions-oriented digital project of thyssenkrupp Steel. Lars Bode from the Business Unit Automotive remembers the presentation of smartform® on a tablet, one of the first Augmented Reality applications in the company. The innovative smartform® process enables to produce components from ultra-high-strength steels with almost no springback. This can be depicted realistically and thus well illustrated on the tablet. “The simulation makes the exchange among experts on complex processes much easier. However, we also bring a component along, as an illustrative model, so to speak“. That makes sense - because data can be experienced, but not touched. By the time VR goggles have become established as a working tool, the machines in the rolling mills will probably have long since shared their data with the plants at other locations.

smartform® as AR application

A complex process simply explained

smartform® is a patented process, which has been especially developed for the cold-forming of dimensionally accurate steels beyond 600 Megapascal, with the aim of preventing undesired springback effects of higher-strength materials. The process consists of two steps: the production of a preform similar to the finished component, and then the adjustment of the dimensional accuracy in the actual smartform® or sizing process. But how can this complex process be visualized in a convincing manner? The solution: thyssenkrupp Steel decided to replace the classic representation variant – an endless sequence of sectional drawings in Power Point – with a novel visualization via Augmented Reality (AR): The development engineers use a tablet to virtually carry the press weighing several tonnes to the customer in order to visualize the interaction between the die and the component in three dimensions. The highlight is that the customer can view the forming process and the principle of action between material and die in detail and from different perspectives in 3D.


ThyssenKrupp Contact

Volker Lang

Head of Digital Transformation & Innovation

thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 100
47166 Duisburg

Telephone: +49 (0)203 52-47749

Send email
ThyssenKrupp Contact

Business Segment Steel Europe

Marcus van Marwick

Head of Communication

Telephone: +49 203 52 41005

Send email
To the top