These virtual replicas of a physical product, equipment, process or the supply chain help you monitor, simulate and optimize performance.
If you’re creating a new tire, you’ll probably mold a prototype and test it out on the road, then update it with refreshed versions and more safety checks.
If you want to boost production capacity, you can rely on your instincts to try to predict the impact on your assembly lines and react to bottlenecks as necessary.
And if you’re worried about a disruption to your supply chain from a natural disaster, you can consider weather forecasts and other relevant data to create contingencies — and then hope for the best.
But in the Transformative Age, manufacturing have another option that is more nimble, more cost-effective, more cutting-edge and more grounded in the real-time reality of how your business actually operates. It’s called digital twin — a virtual replica of any physical product, equipment or asset, or a set of processes – like a supply chain – that you can use as testing grounds for monitoring, simulating and optimizing production, quality and operational performance.
A digital twin could be a virtual version of a tire or a passenger vehicle, the methods for how these items are built or the entire production line. It could even be an entire factory, a network of plants or the end-to-end supply chain. Together with disruptive technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, process and data mining, and even augmented reality, digital twins are stretching the bounds of what’s possible, enabling the fourth industrial revolution to transform manufacturing for the 21st century.
How they work
When looking at factories and the manufacturing process, companies create a digital representation of a piece of equipment, then IoT sensors collect real-time data on its performance and transmit it to servers, either on the premises or in the cloud. With that data, you have an exact digital replica of that equipment and its role in your operations. The more data you get from more sources, the more insights you can glean into how your factory runs, through data analytics and machine learning, and you’re equipped to run simulations. And you can go a step further in your visualizations through virtual reality and augmented reality.
You also have the opportunity to bring in more data from other sources, in other contexts, like logistics information in your supply chain, and serial numbers from components in transit. With the right data, your digital twin becomes a laboratory for exploration, where hypotheses can be tested and forecasts can be sharpened.
A host of related opportunities exist for your products as well, whether you’re still developing them or wondering how they’re being used in the market and can be improved. By visually representing one asset or group of assets in the digital realm and enriching it with data based on the physical world, you’re able to tap into a wide variety of transformative possibilities. To learn more about Digital Twins, click here to read the full article on ey.com.