Digital twins improve production in real life


Real-world data paired with digital product simulations – digital twins – provide valuable insights to help companies identify and solve problems before prototypes go into production and manage products in the field, says Alberto Ferrari, senior director of the Digital-Based Digital Opportunity Center process threads in Raytheon.

“As they say, ‘All models are wrong, but some of them are useful,'” says Ferrari.

The concept has started to grow, and the market for digital technology and tools is growing 58% per year reach $ 48 billion by 2026, compared to $ 3.1 billion in 2020. Using technology to create digital prototypes saves resources, money and time. Yet technology is also used to simulate much more, from the urban population to energy systems to the implementation of new services.

Take different manufacturers Raytheon and a Swedish distillery Absolute Vodka, who use technology to design new products and simplify their production processes, from the supply chain through production and, finally, to recycling and disposal. Singapore, London, i several towns on the Texas Gulf Coast have created digital twins for their communities to address aspects of city governance, including modeling traffic patterns on city streets, analyzing construction trends, and predicting the impact of climate change. And companies such as Bridgestone and drone provider Zipline are using technology paired with operational data to help launch new services.

Companies have adopted digital twins as part of their digital transformations, a way to simulate performance, identify weaknesses and manage services more efficiently. Every company’s digital initiative should explore whether some aspect of its product, operations or environment can be simulated to gain insight.

Design and production simulation

Today’s digital twin technologies have their foundations in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer engineering tools developed more than three decades ago. These software systems have enabled engineers to create virtual simulations to test changes in product design. Engineers designed a product component, such as an airfoil, on a computer, and then commissioned a modeler or sculptor to make an object out of clay, wood, or basic components for physical testing.

Today, the process has shifted the prototyping phase to much later in the process, as the tremendous growth in computing power and storage allows not only the entire product to be prototyped, but also to integrate other information, such as raw material procurement information. materials, components required for the production and operation of products in the field.

“If you look at those CAD and engineering tools from 30 years ago and squint a little, you would see that these things are digital twins,” says Scott Buchholz, chief technology officer for government and public services and new director of technology research at Deloitte Consulting. “As the budget and energy storage have increased, so has the ability to run useful simulations, and we’ve moved from low-fidelity rendering to high-fidelity simulations.”

The result is that digital twin technology has taken over various industries by storm. Manufacturers of expensive vehicles and infrastructure products benefit from shortening the design and development cycle, making airlines, carmakers and urban planning agencies early users. However, startups are also adopting a simulation mentality to quickly replicate product improvements.

A big advantage: digital twins have pushed the physical construction of the prototype much further in the design process. Some companies that run prototype-free initiatives aim to completely eliminate prototyping steps and enable direct production efforts, says Nand Kochhar, vice president of automotive and transportation for Siemens Digital Industries Software.

This is a huge shift compared to past times. “The typical product development life cycle was six to eight years,” says Kochhar of car production. “The industry has been working on it and now they have an 18 or 24 month life cycle. Now, car production relies more on software, which is becoming a decisive factor in the life cycle. ”

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