There’s many ways in which technology changes businesses, processes and shapes our success. With the popularization of Internet of Things, one technology in particular stood. It turned out that Digital Twins for manufacturing and Industry 4.0 is a great opportunity to evolve, revolutionize and optimize many processes.
What is a Digital Twin?
Digital twin is a virtual copy of a physical asset. It refers to processes, places, devices and can be used for many reasons. Digital twin in manufacturing is used to provide information from the physical device using real time data from sensors. Moreover, it also integrates with other devices that allow making various tests on a virtual model.
Digital twins are a formative technology that allows real objects interact with other devices virtually. Manufacturers use it to perform various tests on how a device will perform in certain conditions. Because digital twins are being used for these tests, physical objects can still take part in the manufacturing process. Assets are not in risk of breaking and the time is also saved.
Moreover, having digital twins also allows to optimize the whole manufacturing process. For example, if a system uses a lot of energy, digital twin can try to optimize the energy usage. It doesn’t involve the real object which allows running tests and being in a process of manufacturing at the same time.
Having digital twin of your factory allows you to transfer the whole process into a digitized form. It can include the whole history of devices, life cycles and almost a real-time digital footprint of the whole company.
Using different sensors allows gathering various types of data to analyze them. Thanks to a virtual replica of the device we can see how these data affect the device.
Having insights on what’s happening during manufacturing process and knowing what will happen in the future is extremely important to make the whole equipment the most effective.
How Do Digital Twins Work?
Digital twins is a virtual replica of a real product, device, system etc. It often consists of a 3D model and also data gathered from the real device. For that, the device uses different sensors that are being transferred to the twin. Thanks to that, the analysis can be accurate and based on real-time data.
Digital twins in manufacturing often use 3 types of data: past data to learn about the object and its behavior, present data that monitors the real-time activity and predicts future behavior based on the previous 2 types.
Digital twin doesn’t only analyze the object and the changes within the system. It is also used to analyze and predict the impact on the business and financial situation. Many companies is improves the effectiveness of their supply chain thanks to digital twin analysis.
Benefits of Digital Twins in Manufacturing
Digital twins offers many benefits to manufacturing companies like:
- Minimizing the time of production
- Minimal maintenance thanks to predictive analysis
- Maximized Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
- Getting new insights on the device to maximize the performance
- Ability to run tests on virtual copy without having to risk the real equipment
- Making What-If queries on a digital twin
- Managing assets in real time
- Optimizing system prior to deployment
Internet of Things in Digital Twins
Although there were different variations of system copies before, IoT allowed digital twin technology to evolve in a way it has never before.
Implementation of smart sensors that collect data and communicate with a twin in a real-time allowed the whole virtual copy to become even more effective and accurate.
Digital twin predicts different outcomes using variable data. These data are available thanks to connecting real object to its virtual twin. That’s why it’s safe to say that IoT allowed digital twin technology to grow and evolve.
Digital Twins Use Cases
Formula 1 car racing supported by digital twins
Formula 1 engineers produce around 3.000 car parts every week. Most of those is made to optimize the performance and make vehicles better.
McLaren Technology Group uses digital twin to test the performance of the car that is equipped in different types of sensors. They allow engineers to compare different variations before they’re even physical prototypes being produced. Digital twin allows them to deliver the best outcome possible using only virtual version of the car.
Moreover, digital twin is also used during races. The virtual version is doing the same race as a physical vehicle. This simulation uses sensors to get informations about the weather, road conditions etc. The winner is no longer just the driver, it’s the whole team.
Digital Twin of Oil and Gas Facilities
Kongsberg Digital introduced digital twin for oil and gas facilities that allows exploring assets in a virtual form. It can cover both existing in real life models or it can be also a model that’s not yet installed. Creating a digital twin before deployment gives an opportunity to optimize performance and reduce costs of the actual design.
Digital Twin helps in better understanding of a process, machines behavior and the performance of the assets. It provides 3D model that visualizes real asset and multiple types of data like history of failures, weak points etc. that help with the predictive maintenance.
Digital Wind Farm
GE Renewable Energy created a digital twin of a wind farm to improve overall performance and minimize costs. It’s compatible with their products and allows their customers to visualize and analyze their assets.
Digital twin has become the No. 1 source of information about wind turbines and a field for testing.
It also forecasts the power output and helps optimize costs.
Digital twin is able to revolutionize the way we design and think about manufacturing. It has become a testing field for engineers and a database for analytics.
Digital Twins for manufacturing have become another step after Internet of Things. They’re the ultimate knowledge a company can achieve about their facility and processes. A place where data from equipment connects to the budget of the company. A place where tests don’t require producing prototype.