Center Smart Sensing Systems

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Detect Early and Act Autonomously

A new generation of cyber-physical systems based on autonomously acting structures

The integration of sensor technology allows a mechanical, load-bearing component and its superordinate system to become intelligent, allowing them to autonomously detect and respond to damage or other faults. This capability paves the way for significant cost savings for inspection and maintenance. Early fault and damage detection facilitates more lightweight and safer designs for structural components, and therefore optimized structural exploitation. In combination with the development of digital twins, this capability represents a significant foundation for a new generation of cyber-physical systems.

The development of intelligent structures and systems is a highly interdisciplinary challenge, requiring outstanding depth of expertise in the various disciplines like sensor integration, data and signal processing, quality assurance, fracture mechanics and simulation. The Center Smart Sensing Systems bundles this professional expertise and is a central platform for the development of these systems. In these efforts, the center relies on the industry network smartSHM (Structural Health Monitoring) with more than 60 companies, which was initiated in 2017. This industry network maps the entire value creation chain from development to manufacture and operation.

The objectives of the center, however, go beyond mere structural health monitoring, which – for the most part – deals with damage monitoring only. In an effort to exploit the full potential of automated measurement methods, other smart functionalities and services that are created by way of sensor integration are holistically observed (e.g. load monitoring or the transfer of measurement data to a digital twin). The digital twin will then permit a mapping of the component and the entire system, from which individual residual service life estimations or operation optimization options can be derived.

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Digital twin of a car
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AZL Aachen/SLA

Airplane frame made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic under bending with strain simulation overlay (right)


  • Innovation leadership in sensitive products and autonomously acting systems.
      • Increased availability of components and machines
      • Weight and material savings
      • Decrease in downtimes and failures
      • Increased efficiency and quality in production and maintenance
      • significant cost reduction in production and operation
  • Development and establishment of a new generation of cyber-physical systems, products and services that will become an “enabling technology ” for digitalization, networking and automation.
  • Central point of contact for all those who are involved in condition monitoring and function integration or who want to contribute to corresponding solutions.
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  • Development of smart SHM solutions based on “sensing”, self-diagnosing and independently acting components.
  • Covering the complete product life cycle, from product development to integrated use in series components and complex technical systems.
  • Continuation and expansion of the smartSHM technology network, consisting of
      • Component manufacturers
      • System developers
      • Sensor manufacturers
      • Users/operators
      • Service providers

Areas of Competence

The development of cyber-physical systems requires a holistic approach, which combines all solution-relevant steps in the various disciplines, while simultaneously creating the required interaction points between them. The following areas of competence are represented by the Center Smart Sensing Systems:

  • Simulation of damaged components and their superordinate systems
  • Sensor technology and measurement methods
  • Sensor integration and production
  • Digitization and value creation
  • System integration in the application

Our Offer

Companies have the option of enrolling as a member in the Center Smart Sensing Systems no matter which sector the company operates in. They will have access to the scientific expertise of the associated research institutes at RWTH Aachen University, best practice solutions within the community, and will collaborate in consortial and bilateral projects. Joint research and development within industry consortia allow participating companies to join their know-how and share costs. Enrolled members furthermore have the option of participating with their own products in system demonstrators. That allows them to integrate their own intelligent components, measurement equipment etc. in a demonstrator on system level to display their functionality.

Depending on the desired type of membership (Premium, Business or Basic), members will be assigned a variety of rights within the five benefit categories:
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  • Access to the RWTH Aachen Campus community
  • Temporary use of shared desks
  • The right to lease conference rooms
  • Use of the RWTH Aachen Campus member logo
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  • Annual congress on the topic of smart sensing systems
  • Various specialist workshops
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Research & Development

  • Consortial R&D projects
  • Bilateral R&D projects
  • Co-determination of project topics
  • Participation in strategy planning
  • Joint development of system demonstrators
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  • Consulting service for the development and use of smart sensing systems
  • Placements with testing facilities and prototype workshops of the associated institutes
  • Integration of own modules and components in system demonstrators
  • Certification of modules and interface points in compliance with universal standards developed jointly by the members
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Further Education

  • Interdisciplinary seminar “Smart Sensing Systems – Theory and Practical Implementation”


A Online seminar series of Center Smart Sensing Systems will take place from June to October 2021. The participation for seminar series is free of charge. The seminar series includes a great variety of different topics such as: Digital twin in smart sensing systems, new developments in sensor integration, Data-based business models in mechanical engineering, etc.

More information, (including the date of presentations)
can be found here.

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Initiators of the Center Smart Sensing Systems

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Kai-Uwe Schröder

Prof. Schröder heads up the Institute of Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Design (SLA) and represents the development of new methods for the design of lightweight structures. The institute uses this knowhow for the development of new concepts for structural health monitoring and for the mapping of the structural state in the digital twin.

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Gries

Prof. Gries leads the Institute of Textile Technology and conducts research on fiber-based high performance materials, textile semi-finished products and their production procedures. The institute’s expertise contributes to the development, manufacture and integration of sensor technology, thus contributing to the interface between actual loads and the digital twin.

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Roßmann

Prof. Roßmann heads up the Institute for Man-Machine Interaction and is himself an expert for the interaction, simulation and analysis of complex systems in their deployment environment. To that end, digital twins combine applications, users and systems across their lifecycles.

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Heinen

Prof. Heinen heads up the Chair of Integrated Analog Circuits and RF Systems and brings years of experience in the areas of metrology, detection, and the processing of analog and digital signals to the table. In conjunction with power management, the chair develops on that basis electronics for the structural health monitoring and data processing.


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Dr. -Ing. Zamaan Sadeghi
Phone: +49 241 80-96837