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The way to the digital twin – a guide to implementation

22/04/2021

Digital prototypes for virtual commissioning

In the classic process, in the era before the possibility of virtual commissioning, manufacturers took the direct route via development, assembly, commissioning and production at the operating company. And the consequences of that were frequently catastrophic: faulty planning, inconsistencies or necessary changes only came to light with the real commissioning due to the lack of a possibility to virtually check the concepts and it cost an awful lot of time and money to make changes to a completed machine.

Precisely these risks can be minimised if not entirely ruled out with the virtual commissioning with the help of a digital prototype. In this case the virtual commissioning can be repeated any number of times until everything functions optimally. Only then will the machine be assembled at the operating company. The so-called transfer of risk shifts ever further forward over the course of the process and the lurking dangers become ever smaller in comparison with the classic process.

The securing of all development steps and later the real machine are indispensable for companies nowadays. The classic process is thus also consigned to the history books. If companies today want to remain competitive and thus meet the demands made of them in respect of quality and speed, there remains no alternative than to take new roads and bring in the digital twin.

But how is a digital twin created? We divide the lifecycle of the digital twin into three phases:

  1. Design and manufacturing phase: This first important phase involves testing, modifying and optimising the concepts. The virtual models are based on real data of the machine to be developed. The digital prototype can thus be created under virtually real conditions – the ideal basis for holistic engineering (Continuous Commissioning).
  2. Operative phase: When the real machine has been commissioned, the „genuine“ digital twin is directly available. Fed with all relevant data during the development process, it can take care of the measurements and monitoring in running operation with the real commissioning. Subsequent improvements and modifications are easily implementable.
  3. Extension of the machine: The findings gained from the operation of the digital twin are incorporated into the further development. The simulation model is thereby available to the machine manufacturer for the safe run-through of all planned extensions in advance. The result: only minimal standstill times are necessary for tooling/retooling. That saves costs and time.
  4. Are you interested in obtaining further information on the digital twin? Then just contact us. We’ll be glad to advise you!

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