It’s no secret that industrial automation improves process efficiency with Digital Twinning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) being the two most notable emerging trends. Near-future expert forecasts predict a radical and permanent shift in product design and development. In its course, it will be up to the most innovative manufacturers to take advantage and benefit from the new product-centred technology.

 

Does the concept of digital twinning seem too far-fetched to be applicable for small- or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)? Not really, but oftentimes it seems so. Yet, such businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, so innovative digital helpers, like IndustriGen are quickly filling the niche in supporting them throughout the entire digital transformation process with affordable software solutions. A challenging but truly rewarding endeavor. 

What is a Digital Twin: Lifting the Curtains 

Whenever there is a new trendy topic, we have to think about how it contributes to the world we live in. In the increasingly digitised communities, we live and work in, the challenge to adapt to new market conditions is present. However, digital twins are not entirely new. The concept dates back from 2002 when prof. Michael Grieves discussed the information mirroring model as part of product lifecycle management and postulated that each physical system also consists of virtual components. Later, NASA officially named the prototype concept “digital twin” while attempting to build a virtual system to control physical ones in outer space. 

A digital twin is a real-time digital copy of physical products that helps manufacturers analyse product features, boost future performance and achieve continuous improvement. Digital twinning comes to aid those businesses that are closely intertwined with digital product development, monitoring & predictive maintenance. The true abundance of this technology lies in its vast use cases applied to manufacturing as entire processes gradually become dependent on modern technologies due to accelerated digital transformations. While decades ago, mechatronic systems used to be the gold standard of manufacturing, nowadays Industry 4.0 leads us to new generations of cyber-physical systems with machine-to-machine communication and integrated cloud services. 

Who Uses Digital Twins and Should You too?

If you’ve read this far, perhaps you ask yourself what industries can benefit from a digital twin and whether yours is among them. Some major manufacturing industries that already utilise this technology are the automotive, food and beverage industries, aerospace engineering, metal processing etc. New research by Gartner revealed that 31% of surveyed companies adopted a digital twin as an additional Covid-provoked safety measure, allowing remote asset monitoring, while another 27% plan on using this technology autonomously. Think of a digital twin as a virtual data container of products or complex processes such as product design, quality inspection, packaging and performance optimisations – all at your disposal wherever you need it. 

In today’s dynamic manufacturing arena having a digital twin means your factory is fully equipped with a mighty assistant in vital areas such as diagnostics, analytics and predictions. Among the many use cases applied to manufacturing is that digital twins provide you with timely performance reviews, an invaluable asset in production. Such reviews simultaneously help cut down manufacturing costs and act as a meaningful step in the decision-making process of production managers and process engineers. 

New Emerging Market to Nourish Development 

A digital twin can perform insightful simulations from various vantage points and deliver essential information of what’s available and what’s possible. All these lead to deeper product understanding and leaves the doors of optimisation opportunities wide open. This unique tool for virtual representation enables smooth information flow unlocking the full potential of entire manufacturing value chains. Running what-if scenarios boosted by AI capabilities can unfold previously unknown product utilisations.

Product development is inevitably dependent on in-depth market analysis and competition research. Alan Prior, a EuroNorth VP at Dassault Systèmes gives the example of airplanes and deodorants – the latter is quicker to design and run prototype tests on. However, when it comes to producing exceptionally large product quantities, it is essential to fully grasp the manufacturing process to shorten time to market, reduce risks and encourage sustainable production. With a digital twin on your side, you effortlessly run simulations and adapt to changing demands prior to actually implementing product modifications. Not only does this save you valuable time and financial resources in the long run, but you also serve your brand customers better.  

While exploring prospective innovative technologies, decision-makers should concentrate on strategic long-term tech solutions that contribute to digital infrastructure. On the verge of Industry 4.0, digital twinning may as well turn out to be one of the best coping strategies for manufacturers to 2020’s powerful adaptation lesson. In case you don’t feel like walking on the untrodden ground anymore, we invite you to apply for our accelerator programme for UK manufacturers, starting in September. Application is open, hurry up as only selected manufacturers will have the opportunity to hear out our industry leaders.

 

Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva 

Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen оn innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.