Digital twin technology is an integral part of the future success of smart manufacturing. Even though there are numerous intersecting technologies coming together to enable digital manufacturing – there are three in particular that are necessary to focus on in order to employ a new class of digital twin to reach even higher performance levels.
The development of digital twin
Looking back at digital twin development over the past ten years it is evident that it has come a long way – both in its capabilities and found applications. However, for most of its history, digital twin was seen only as a tool to optimize the life cycle of final products.
Recently, we are becoming more aware of some of the limitations of conventional digital twin. For instance, any type of design or testing that needs to happen regarding an asset can either be done on the physical asset or its digital twin. Working on both simultaneously is not supported. These models limit cross-team collaboration across the virtual environment while the simulation is in operation. And, despite being capable of predictive analytics, the models are not well set up to process data coming from other parts of the production line.
An evolved digital twin
Looking to make up for those shortcomings, digital twin is evolving yet again. Its application is no longer restricted to the optimization of the lifecycle of a single piece of machinery or a single product. Digital twin’s application can now be expanded to improve our understanding of the manufacturing operation as a whole by creating a digital twin of the entire manufacturing process.
Expanding the functionalities in this way opens up entirely new applications and even more ways to extract value and meaningful insights from technology. Having access to the big picture view can empower the virtual model to look beyond the previously defined confines and increase product quality and production efficiency by making adjustments to the manufacturing process at large.
It is worth considering the key benefits that make this technology such an important piece to bring about digital transformation and industry 4.0. Digital twin is capable of improving the level of integration of the internal business processes to make collaboration up and down the supply chain easier. It also unlocks the potential for collaboration between organizations so that engineers designing the product can work with the production teams in another organization to optimize both product design and quality of production – yielding a more efficient production process.
With the Process Digital Twin, you now have the ability to create new customer and enterprise value through personalized service, to drive product quality and advancements, to prevent breakdowns before they occur, and to reinvent knowledge-sharing in a people-machine environment. To ensure success, this Process Digital Twin must be intelligent, collaborative, interactive and contextual.
Process digital twin generates additional value in enhancing the organization’s ability to personalize client engagements, boost the rate of innovation while improving product quality, reducing downtime and fostering an environment of collaboration. To do this digital twin needs to be intelligent and contextually aware. Once organizations commit to enabling this their journey to smart manufacturing will be greatly accelerated.