What can Digital Twins do for me? Published On - November 11, 2022 Andrew Sparrow 3DExperience Every investment needs to show a measurable ROI, and there’s not too many better today than the creation and implementation of the Digital Twin(s) for Manufacturing. Manufacturers must evolve to keep up with continuous demands from consumers and businesses to provide new innovations and product development. Keeping up to date with these demands, in particular, testing new products regularly can be very challenging for manufacturers. The only way to win this battle is by being digital. Now while even the least advanced of organizations understand this, we must always put our finger on an ROI. There needs to be a measurable return on a digital solution for an existing or potential challenge. And so, this week, I thought I’d try to exhaust every reason to create your Digital Twin……unless you can think of a few more? The Benefit to Manufacturing Operations Within manufacturing, in particular, they are having an incredible effect on productivity and efficiency. There are multiple areas within any given manufacturing operation that can benefit. Quality Control Quality Control is an essential part of any manufacturing process. With the use of digital twins, engineers can analyse data in real-time, detecting quality control issues as they occur and then use the data obtained from the Digital Twin to uncover the root causes. Furthermore, Quality Control plays an integral part on every factory floor. No matter what you’re producing, there’s always a range of acceptable and unacceptable criteria that need closely monitoring. Digital Twins make this monitoring easier and allow for a real-time approach to quality. Your Digital Twin can keep track of and continuously monitor critical quality KPIs. When these KPIs move toward tolerable limits, your Digital Twin reflects this change immediately. The system can then alert the appropriate stakeholders to take immediate action to correct the quality issue. Raw Material Consumption & waste management Over production and defect output are two of the most common contributors to waste generation. Facilities that run on legacy technologies and can’t address the challenges of modern manufacturing are far too common. However, this doesn’t mean that manufacturers should accept huge waste generation as an unavoidable consequence of production. Industrial waste must be reduced, and the Digital Twin and its data can play a key role in achieving this, if you know what to do with it. Raw Materials are the highest cost element in manufacturing, and therefore essential to monitor and optimize. With Digital Twins, the real-time consumption of bulk raw materials and additives is continuously updated and monitored. Combined with accurate real-time production data, this gives your production teams an immediate overview of how efficiently raw material is being used. They can identify which machines aren’t in line with their KPIs and adjust as needed. Furthermore, a manufacturer’s raw material waste management policy serves as an integral cost-saving mechanism, reducing waste and implementing recycling wherever possible. However, applying a waste management policy to the factory floor presents additional challenges. With digital twins, manufacturers are able to continuously monitor actual waste management on the factory floor and compare it with their policy. By setting KPI targets and limits, procedures can be autonomously enforced in real-time on the factory floor with the data provided by the digital twins. Energy Management Much like raw material management, energy management plays an important role in reducing production costs. However, energy management is less intuitive and more challenging for manufacturers to implement. The digital twin can greatly simplify the entire process. Just like any other production data, the digital twin provides both highly focused element real-time and historical energy consumption data for any individual machine on the factory floor. It’s typical to find inconsistencies across multiple machines that when analyzed can make significant efficiency improvement. With this data, manufacturers can better manage their energy use to optimize their costs around demand and peak consumption rates. Process Optimization & Scheduling Manufacturing operations are increasingly complex. The modern factory floor is often too complex for stakeholders to intuitively optimize workflows. However, the digital twin serves as an effective tool to do so. With clear and accurate production data for every individual machine, manufacturers can better identify areas for improvement. Digital Twins are ideal to harmonize the siloed discord across manufacturing operations from design to process, delivering operational efficiencies. The Digital Twin enables stakeholders to evaluate machines based on multiple KPIs and other criteria all at once, giving them a fuller understanding of what’s really happening on the factory floor. This, in turn, lets them make informed and accurate decisions when making changes to workflows and processes. Production Scheduling Production scheduling has always been a challenge. Aligning your incoming work orders with production capacity is difficult even when everything is working properly and pretty daunting when machine availability and performance concerns are considered. Digital Twins make production scheduling far easier by providing teams with the information they need to make changes in realtime. Because the Digital Twins contain extensive historical production data, production teams can see how any potential changes will affect the schedule quickly and accurately: Minimizing the impact of equipment downtime: A “machine health twin” can use process and equipment data to monitor, troubleshoot, diagnose, and predict faults and failures in manufacturing equipment. Optimizing production planning and scheduling: A “scheduling and routing twin” can collect data from shop-floor systems, such as production equipment, your MES and ERP, to analyze the current status of the production system and any fluctuations in customer demand, inventory, and resources. This knowledge can then enable demand-driven, on-time delivery, resource (i.e., material, labor, and equipment) optimization, cycle-time reduction, and inventory-cost reduction. Enabling virtual commissioning: A “commissioning twin” can use information from the vendor and data collected by monitoring new equipment performance during commissioning to enable system optimization and continuous improvement. This knowledge can allow manufacturers to discover and resolve issues before investment and avoid the need for costly adjustments during or after installation. Internal Communications Your production teams need to be able to communicate effectively in order to address problems as they arise. Digital twins can streamline communications by serving as a centralized source of truth for information on individual machines. This gives everyone the necessary context to address issues. Information silos can be a significant challenge to overcome on the factory floor. Digital twins reduce the amount of time spent tracking down production and maintenance data on specific machines by aggregating it all into a single easy-to-access and intuitive location. Business benefits of digital twins The main point of the digital twin is to digitize existing processes so you can operate with optimum efficiency in when it counts. But what does this really mean to your business? Data-driven decision making. You’re able to model alternative approaches and restructure entire processes based on real data, rather than making decisions based on generalized assumptions. Reducing your costs. Usually, a product goes through several versions before a physical prototype is created. This process is time-consuming and expensive. Digital Twins allows your engineers to perform tests and simulations in a virtual environment to reduce later defects in production. Better R&D. Improvements in your R&D processes, thanks to the valuable insights Digital Twins pull from customers, processes, mechanisms, and connections received and then embedded in the models. Innovation-based product changes. Digital Twins help improve the design of physical products throughout their entire lifecycle by pre-analyzing the product during development. By combining operational network information with data from connected assets, enterprises can create a digital view to manage and maintain infrastructure to deliver better services. Improved business operations. Digital twins can improve interactions and workflows between different departments, such as product development, sales, maintenance, and engineering. In this way, enterprises can ensure continuous improvement and sustained profitability by identifying performance gaps. Product lifecycle management. Product development is a costly process, because it involves generating multiple prototypes/MVPs and conducting various tests. Digital Twins allow your engineers and manufacturers to test their designs in any environment, at any stage, until the perfect solution is found. Reducing your time to market. A virtual prototype/MVP allows you to test how a physical product would perform in the real world, therefore optimizing efficiency and development time. Increasing your customer value and satisfaction. Digital Twins identify and collect user feedback to pinpoint design flaws and other issues. This insight then goes to your engineering and technical departments, where they can improve the product according to customer expectations, including their customization.