Would you believe us if we said you could increase profit margins by over 50% after deploying a Digital Twin?
Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Don’t just take our word for it. Take this case study from Challenge Advisory for instance, which explains how the firm managed to increase one of their clients’ profit margins by an average of 41-54% after upgrading their automobile manufacturing process. It took them just 14 days to deploy a Digital Twin. As a result, they managed to reduce the overall time it took to manufacture a car model down to between 9 and 10 hours, saving hours of work for each car that they manufactured. If you want to find out how to achieve such results with your manufacturing process, this article is for you.
What are Digital Twins?
The concept of Digital Twin technology is one of the latest innovations to happen under Industry 4.0 and is a big game-changer in the manufacturing industry that allows companies to significantly increase their competitiveness. A Digital Twin is a digital replica of an artefact, process, or service and is used for monitoring, diagnostics, and prognostics to optimise asset performance. In most cases, the real-world physical asset and its Digital Twin are connected by streams of data. The twin receives this data through sensors that are installed at key locations on its real-world counterpart. When something happens to the physical asset, the Digital Twin is automatically updated to mirror the real-world event. This allows us to monitor the change in real-time from any device and from any location.
In the case of Challenge Advisory mentioned above, the firm implemented the following components to deploy the Digital Twin:
- “Motion and key movement tracking of the machinery.
- Accurate data collection and usage in order to provide valid workflow optimization.
- Key monitoring systems that would serve as a foundation for machine learning.
- Additional sensors directly into the engines of all manufactured models.”
The image below, taken from deloitte.com, helps to further illustrate the connection between a physical asset and its digital counterpart.
The concept of the Digital Twin is not new. Although most academic and industry publications recognise Michael Grieves of Florida Institute of Technology as the first person to apply the concept in manufacturing back in 2002, NASA started using basic twinning ideas for space programming as early as the 1960’s. They even created a Digital Twin to assess and simulate conditions on board Apollo 13 (see challenge.org).
Nowadays, thanks to the rapid advances of IoT, implementing a Digital Twin has become a lot more cost-effective and an increasing number of manufacturers are adopting the technology to improve their assets. Digital twins have carved a market for themselves within the aerospace industry, automotive industry, healthcare, supply chain, construction, and more industries. According to this article by Global Market Insights, the Digital Twin market exceeded USD 4 billion in 2019 and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 30% between 2020 and 2026. They are in the process of becoming a business imperative and covering the entire lifecycle of an asset or process.
We shared a video in a recent article that we published in the Change2Twin community that illustrates in great detail how a Digital Twin helps to identify issues or create simulations to predict performance enhancements. The video was first published on GE Digital’s YouTube channel and features a compelling presentation by Colin J. Parris, Ph.D., VP of Software Research at GE Global Research Center.
How do Digital Twins benefit manufacturers?
In general terms, Digital Twins are highly effective in providing new opportunities and improving productivity and efficiency. Deploying a Digital Twin will allow you to predict problems and prevent downtime, which leads to increased productivity and reduced costs.
If you had the chance to fix an issue before it occurred, would you take it or ignore it? Smart sensors transmit real-time data and intelligent analytics to your Digital Twin and allow you to visualise potential errors before they even take place. Do you remember that movie Minority Report? Well, Digital Twins act just like the precogs who tell Tom Cruise which people to neutralise before they commit a crime. In a manufacturing scenario, Digital Twins arm you with the knowledge you need to intervene in time and perform preventive maintenance before catastrophic failure occurs.
Naturally, if you fail to predict problems in time, your production process can drive to a dramatic halt. Predictive algorithms can provide insight into potential failures and technicians can find out the root cause of the issue remotely before coming to make the correct adjustments or fixes in person.
Benefit #1 – Increased productivity
Create simulations based on historical performance data and use the forecasted results from the simulations to plan for future improvements in the manufacturing process. Digital Twins can be used to monitor the entire manufacturing cycle from design to finished product. Improving performance leads to an increased speed in production, which allows you to keep hitting targets.
Benefit #2 – Reduced costs
As we mentioned in the previous points, thanks to the analysis of real-time performance data, Digital Twins allow you to carry out preventive maintenance before too much wear and tear occurs. It’s always preferable to fix small technical issues before they develop into larger scale and more costly system breakdowns. At the same time, you are avoiding production downtime which means you can keep hitting targets and avoid unnecessary losses. Furthermore, the simulations that you create help to improve productivity without adding resources, allowing for higher profitability.
Access funding to deploy a Digital Twin
If you have reached this paragraph, chances are you are already thinking about deploying a Digital Twin to increase your competitiveness. And if this is the case, then you are in luck. Meet Change2Twin, the latest EU-funded initiative that aims to ensure that 100% of manufacturing companies in Europe have access to 100% of technologies needed to deploy a Digital Twin.
This article was originally published by Julian Trémaud at the Change2Twin Community