Going back to 2016’s Hannover Messe, Siemens introduced the term, Digital Twin, to explain the design principle of the future. The idea is that a digital version of each product will be developed for all aspects of design, development, manufacturing, and aftermarket maintenance and improvements.
|Here’s an example of a Digital Twin. (Source: Siemens PLM)|
The Digital Twin will include all aspects of the product, including its parts list, simulation and analysis results, its materials, its manufacturing requirements, and its quality data. Once the product goes out to users, data will continue to be collected with the goal of using field performance to enhance future models.
The Digital Twin gathers a number of individual technologies related to the product, from CAD and CAE data to 3D-printed prototypes and even PLM data. All of this is connected to the company’s ERP system so that marketing and sales information is also available. Here are some of the stories that have appeared in Design News over the past years that include elements that make up the Digital Twin.
Simulation has become so accurate, that the world it creates for testing new products is more on the mark than real-world testing. That’s the essence of the Digital Twin, a virtual version of a product that can be run through tests that are wider ranging and more accurate than what can be done with the actual product.
Manufacturers are generating tons of product data as well as data on the machines used to produce the product. Add the data coming back from customers who are using the product and the result can be an overwhelming flow, prompting the question: What data matters? The ability to choose the right data can help a company decipher aspects of the product that support continual improvement in manufacturing and field performance.
Thanks to a joint effort between Autodesk and Microsoft, designers and engineers could soon be able to collaborate on product designs by interacting together on full-size, three-dimensional holographic models -- walking around them, discussing them, testing them, and even editing them in real time.
Design Twin technology also supports improvements in the speed of design. Software vendors are continually releasing new applications to hurry design and shorten the distance and time from idea to final manufacturable blueprint, helping design engineers accelerate their companies' speed to market for new products. Here are a number of apps that streamline the design process with the goal of getting the products to end-users as quickly as possible.
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.