The Emergence of Digital Twins in Manufacturing Industry

By Matanat Rashid

Mon, 22 Oct 2018

Manufacturers must evolve to keep up with continuous demands from consumers and businesses to provide new innovations and product development. Keeping abreast with these demands, in particular, testing the products regularly could be testing for the manufacturers. The only way they can win this battle is by going digital. While there is no shortage of technological advancements, the Digital Twins concept within the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) remains as the standout trend currently.

The digital twins can be implemented in various ways within the manufacturing sector. They can be implemented for an entire facility, a particular asset within the facility, or solely for a product in the field. Moreover, they can be designed and applied in thousands of different scenarios. They will allow the manufacturers to evaluate production, visualise products (in different environments), assist machinery, track and monitor systems, and troubleshoot equipment which isn’t within the physical proximity.

The digital twins can predict failures before they affect or damage the products. They empower the manufacturers with instant troubleshooting by adjusting the parameters along the production line in the twin. They also allow the engineers to analyse the behaviour of the product by comparing the digital model with the actual product. The digital twins can also commission and diagnose the products that are already in the field. It enables the technicians to carry necessary equipment and tools while troubleshooting any malfunction in the product physically.

Manufacturing companies would be able to save a lot of money and provide better customer service with the incorporation of this technology. The twins can provide a reflection of how well the product is performing, and understand its usage ratio among the customers. These statistics are then fed into the product development and manufacturing process to help boost product margins, and increase customer satisfaction and market share.

Visualisation is the key in any business. When it comes to manufacturing, there is so much information to grasp. Making the best out of the given data (sheets, figures or charts) sometimes prove to be too abstract to create the call for action. Industrial IoT Digital Twin offers hybrid visualization, which represents visual information with live and historical data. It gives the supervisors, managers and workers much more authority as compared to the conventional visualisation.

The digital twins also offer a better connection between the machines and the human. For example, a stakeholder who is sitting thousands of miles away from a machine can remotely monitor its performance through its digital counterpart. The engineers monitoring the digital duplicate are capable of eliminating the errors by removing the points of failure. The digital twin gives access to a broader set of professionals who possess a much better understanding of the machines at work and the process as a whole.

Conclusively, Digital Twins help complete the product loop. Manufacturers nowadays don’t extend their relationship with the consumers. They do not collect data of the product once it is sold. This discontinuity with the consumer does not provide a quantitative real-world feedback and hence the next version of that product does not offer the innovation from a consumer perspective. The digital twins provide feedback via IoT to manufacturers, enabling a data stream which can help in integrating the innovation that the consumers demand.


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Matanat Rashid

matanat59@gmail.com

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