The digital twin – the real-time simulation model – will accompany every machine from planning to operation. That applies not only to developments at the major players, but also to work processes at mid-size and small enterprises. The latter in particular are hesitant to approach the topic of simulation models. That is completely unnecessary, however,
because the digital transformation can be implemented quickly and inexpensively irrespective of the size of the company. No company will be able to ignore the digital transformation in the future, because it is the only way to cope with ever shorter lead times, increasingly complex requirements and the pressures of competition. The use of the digital twin is the big step towards Industry 4.0 that every company has to take to be able to survive on the market. Nobody will still be able to afford to rely on real commissioning and then have to make time-consuming and cost-intensive modifications that could have been avoided through prior simulation. With the digital twin a perfect virtual image of the (planned) machine is available. In this way, the manufacturer offers greater efficiency in the development, virtual commissioning, manufacture and service – including after-sales.
In the future it will only be possible to optimise the entire value-added process with the help of the digital twin: the real-time simulation model is available from the efficient planning phase, uncomplicated virtual commissioning and short maintenance times through to trouble-free operation.
Machineering has long been an advocate of the holistic engineering approach. The digital twin thereby plays a completely new role in the plant development that goes well beyond a pure verification function. The digital twin also supports the maintenance process.
Maintenance with the digital twin
With the digital twin in the control cabinet, a virtual real-time model of the running plant is available at all times. All adaptations and optimisations can be implemented quickly and reliably. The planned change is first tested on the digital twin and only transferred to the real plant when the ideal solution has been found. That not only saves time, but also money for what would otherwise be costly changes. A field study conducted by machineering produced the following competitive advantages for companies:
- Shortening of the commissioning time by up to 75 percent
- Reduction in the total lead time by approx. 15 percent
- Increase in the quality of the software by more than 40 percent
- Lowering of costs
Development process with the digital twin
The simulation is thereby available as a cross-departmental platform on which the current state of development can be verified at any time and the feasibility checked with other departments. Immediate feedback is always guaranteed by means of tests in a simulation model that realistically maps the behaviour of the system – without the laborious saving, reformatting and loading of data models. The mechanical, electrical and software departments access the same model at the same time and each of them process it in their own development environment before jointly developing it further and testing it immediately in interaction by means of the simulation.
The current state of the mechatronic development is thus subjected to interdisciplinary testing even in the earliest phases of the development process. Through this continuous commissioning the expenditure can ultimately be reduced – in terms of both time and cost – in comparison with the usual final commissioning, because the constant comparison of the work status allows the feasibility and achievability of the goals to be checked at any time.
Virtual reality and the digital twin
The development now even goes one step further. Users not only have the exact model of the real machine at their disposal as a digital twin: with the connection of VR / AR glasses to industrialPhysics the user dives even deeper into the simulated plant - into the machine in virtual reality. machineering is taking new roads with the glasses. Whether entirely cut off from the outside world with the VR variant or as a hologram based on real data with augmented reality – every user will find the solution that best suits him.