Closed-Loop, AI-Driven Digital Twins
The concept of a Digital Twin is exciting, but it's also confusing.
By now most people have heard about digital twins, but many aren't sure how it actually benefits their business. Most understand the technology—that it is a virtual model which allows for the simulation in order to validate or optimize different aspects such as parts/products/processes.
However there are many other ways businesses have been able to benefit from Digital Twin technologies such as: improving quality control/assurance; creating more effective training simulations; and providing a new level of customer experience in real-time through IoT devices connected directly with manufacturing equipment on site and at the edge.
In this article, we will be going over some key questions and provide some tips on how to get started.
Is it worth investing now?
A Digital Twin is an incredibly useful tool that many industries are testing in their facilities and its a technology that most are already adopting. However, if the required investments aren't clear and well-defined goals are not set from the start, it can result in miscommunication about what exactly a digital twin does and how to measure its effectiveness.
Before jumping into your AI journey, consider the three tips below.
Tip #1 - Choose a "Closed-Loop Digital Twin"
Hold on... what's the difference?
Reminder: a "traditional" digital twin is a virtual representation of an object or system that spans its lifecycle, is updated from real-time data, and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help decision-making.”
In plain English, this just means, the digital twin creates a complex virtual model that is the exact counterpart (or twin) of the physical thing. The 'thing' could be car, building, bridge or jet engine. Connected sensors on the asset collects data to map onto the virtual model allowing anyone looking at it see crucial information about how its doing out in the real world.
Now, a new version has made it to the market called: closed-loop digital twin. A closed-loop digital twin can improve quality and compliance of product designs and production processes by allowing multiple, quick, what-if scenarios and by validating designs and processes virtually.
The most important aspect of a closed-loop digital twin is the feedback loop, which allows for real-time performance data from production lines and products in the field to be immediately—and continuously—applied to the product design. With an integrated AI-driven digital twin, each part of this process communicates in real-time (identifying areas for improvement) across your company's entire value chain which enables faster decision making and stronger collaboration. With this closed-loop, you can quickly understand how to optimize the assets and work on the factory floor, which enables you to implement efficient processes, prevent costly downtime, optimize workflow, and predict when preventative maintenance will be necessary.
The AI-Driven, Closed-Loop Digital Twin will continue to gather data and retrain itself how the machine or process needs to operate. Before you know it, your products and machines could be functioning at top speeds while producing minimal amounts of energy required for quality production.
Tip #2 - Know Your Goals Before Getting Started
The first consideration when creating a Digital Twin is deciding what should be included in it. It could be the whole system, just one part of that system or something smaller still. Next, determine how much detail needs to go into this model—do we need an exact replica? Or would a slightly less detailed version work too? Once these two things are decided upon, you can progressively add more fidelity and content over time as needed for achieving goals/outcomes.
You may ultimately want to know about every aspect of the entire asset, but do you currently have the time, money or resource to create the necessary models and data infrastructure to capture that? An alternative is to focus on known critical areas where the value of the Digital Twin approach can be demonstrated and then built incrementally from there.
Wherever you start - consider the short, medium and long-term goals.
When you start considering your Digital Twin, consider the short term goals of using it as a diagnostic tool to detect anomalies and operational support. Your medium-term goals are for prognostics, asset integrity management availability planning with this digital twin. When thinking about long-term possibilities think about decommissioning life extension through fatigue life assessment which can be done by either creating or updating information on how much wear an engine has seen over its lifetime so far until necessary repairs need to be made in order prolong time between replacements or overhauls.
Tip #3 - Know How You Will Monetize the Digital Twin
The key to developing and monetizing a Digital Twin is taking an incremental approach with smaller, more realistic goals.
Do not start by picturing the end-state version of your digital twin and trying to build that from scratch! Start small so you can learn along the way and make updates as needed. In order to determine the value of a Closed-Loop Digital Twin, it is important that its targeted outcomes are measurable and quantifiable. This will allow you to understand how effective this technology can be in improving existing processes within your organization.
- Reducing energy and fuel consumption but maintaining the same high-standard quality of products produced
- Reducing overall costs through improved process efficiency and automation
- Reducing the number of times you need to shut down operations due to issues that could be prevented
- Prevent costly employee injuries through a proactive management approach vs a calendar-based assessment on your assets
Do Digital Twins ACTUALLY work? In short, YES! But keep in mind, that not all digital twin softwares can deliver on what is promised. With so much hype going around this new technology, it's important you do your homework, gather your data, set your goals, and pilot out a software to see if it meets your requirements.
While the thought of achieving all the benefits of digital twins might sound unattainable at first, it’s important to note manufacturers that are successfully implementing an integrated closed-loop digital twin system and process do so one step at a time, but with a vision of end-to-end connectivity. As they reap the benefits with each deployment, they are building the manufacturing business of the future. We're living in a time when digital twins are becoming increasingly important. These models will soon serve as the backbone of future businesses, much like automation did during previous industrial revolutions. Every manufacturer should start integrating an end-to-end strategy that incorporates these systems and processes into their business model to remain competitive.
Click Here to speak with a SORBA team member about your Digital Twin strategies. Our platform is extremely simple to use and has been designed with the SME in mind. Get a free 30-day pilot program today. Simple to use platform-- there is nothing else like it, but we'll let you be the judge of that.