Digital twins in the manufacturing industry create better work processes, enable development of new products faster and cheaper while also offering great savings in economy by anticipating wear in components and machine parts.
The purpose of a digital twin is to provide a correct decision basis for implementing process changes to optimize production at every stage. There are huge amounts to save here, says Lars Sandberg, Senior Sales Expert at Dassault Systèmes.
Simulation has long been used in the manufacturing industry to develop and test how products and processes behave under different conditions.
With the rise of IoT, Internet of Things, completely new opportunities in the field of simulation were created. By using sensors that measure real-world conditions and which continuously send data to the simulation program, a digital version of the product or process is created. A digital twin is created.
Digital twins are a technology trend, and the need for them has been discussed for quite some time. It is only in recent years that there have been both good software and sufficiently powerful hardware platforms at a reasonable price that this opportunity has been created even for smaller companies, says Lars Sandberg.
A digital twin is becoming more and more complete and will work with ever greater precision the more parameters, the more data and measured values it has access to. Furthermore, by collecting this data at increasingly tight intervals of the physical object, one can further improve the precision of the digital twin.
Create better products from the beginning
A digital twin can provide insights that lead to significant savings in the economy. Already in the development phase of a new product, it is today possible to create a virtual prototype and also the entire production line that will be needed. This provides several benefits.
If you start by building a virtual representation of your upcoming physical product and environment, you can simulate, test run and optimize production and troubleshoot in the virtual setting before real deployment. The big advantage is that you get a shorter time to production start. You can achieve “First Time Right, the right quality, from the first unit, much faster, says Lars Sandberg.
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There is also a sustainability element to gain by utilizing a digital twin.
If you can avoid developing physical prototypes, there are savings to be made in several stages, such as transportation, lead times and equipment. The sustainability aspect is becoming increasingly important for many companies today, says Lars Sandberg.
Historical operating data reveals the future
By constantly analyzing the data flow that is feeding the digital twin, it is possible to anticipate when equipment and vital components start to wear out. Historical data over a longer period of time show patterns that reveal how often maintenance needs to be carried out in the future. It’s called Predictive Maintenance.
During a planned stop in the production line for maintenance you can then replace all the parts that will soon break down. This leads to a reduced number of stops. For a large production unit, this means avoiding substantial additional costs that would otherwise arise from downtime during unexpected component and machinery breakdowns, says Lars Sandberg.
Since this technology can be used to predict when a component needs to be replaced, it is unnecessary keep spare parts in stock. These can be built in a 3D printer or ordered for delivery just before component replacement.
Cheaper troubleshooting using a digital twin
Another advantage of having a production facility as a digital twin in a virtual setting is when problems arise in the physical production line. In many cases it will be possible to perform inspection and troubleshooting on the digital twin, which is both faster and cheaper than had it be done in the physical production line.
The technology of using digital twins emerged with the American space program in the 1960s. In the early 2000s, the method began to be used more widely in among other areas the automotive industry.
DELMIA – Digital Enterprise Lean Manufacturing Interactive Application – is a software from Dassault Systèmes that specializes in digital manufacturing, modeling, planning, and industrial manufacturing simulation.
DELMIA, together with CATIA, ENOVIA, SIMULIA, SolidWorks and 3DVIA is included in Dassault Système’s PLM portfolio.
Click here to download a White Paper on Digital Twins