My previous post described the “Digital Twins” in general and the importance of PLM to support it. To begin with a Digital Twin need to provide the means to design, validate and optimize a part, product, manufacturing process or production facility in the virtual world using a set of computer models. It should enable companies to do these things quickly, accurately and as close as possible to the real thing – the physical counterpart. They also need to consume the data from sensors that are installed on physical objects to represent their near real-time status, working condition or position.
Digital Twins was in the making for many years , especially around advanced robotics. Siemens has recognized the value of the digital twin for a long time and enabled the development of full 3D models for automotive body assembly cells. These models were used to simulate, validate and optimize robotic operations before they were executed on the shop floor. With an extremely high degree of fidelity, these applications could not only simulate a cell, but also enable its near perfect virtual commissioning. Advances in computer science have made it possible to broaden the scope of the primitive digital twin to include many more capabilities, information, inputs and outputs. Today Siemens support digital twins for product design, manufacturing process planning and production using the Smart Factory loop and via smart products.
One of the most important value of a digital twin is that it enables flexibility in manufacturing and reduces the time needed for product design, manufacturing process and system planning, and production facility design; thus helping companies to develop and introduce new products to the market much faster than ever. Connecting Engineering , manufacturing process design and actual production is the foundation and starting point for Digital Twins.
A digital twin also improves quality and even supports new business models that offer opportunities for small-to-midsize companies to expand and bring more high-tech capabilities into their shops. Digital twins will help companies become more flexible, reduce time-to-market and costs, improve quality and increase productivity at all levels of the organization. When implementing a true “Digital Twin” on the first day becomes a big ask for companies, they might want to adopt it in a phased manner, may be in a similar way it evolved – starting with automated manufacturing process design and production. My next blog will outline the three pillars involved in deploying a digital twin .