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Digital Twins Are More Effective for Manufacturers

Digital twins are digital representations or “replicas” of products generated through advanced data modeling. Instead of using photographs that miss product details, digital twins produce indistinguishable digital counterparts for physical products. As a result, manufacturers gain many benefits over photography, including improved product design, more efficient production processes, and better equipment maintenance and monitoring. Here’s why digital twins are more effective than photos for manufacturers.

1. Capture real-time data

In product design, digital twin “as-builts” provide design teams with real-time records collected throughout manufacturing. This living record is constantly updated, documenting all changes and mimicking the product as it exists throughout each stage. It includes:

  • All available information for each product component
  • The materials used for each component
  • Processing details
  • Workers at each production stage
  • In-process and post-processing inspection data
  • Flaws and corrective actions taken

By monitoring and analyzing data in physical equipment consistently, digital twins provide valuable insight into product health and product performance. You aren’t dealing with a, “optical” photograph or series of photographs to address the whole, but instead, capture real-time digital data based on different levels of twins.

By applying sensors to capture specific areas of a product, the twin technology mimics functionality, creating a virtual environment. This realistic representation enables you to measure the performance of each component accurately. Also, the two-way flow used while collecting information goes back and forth.

It feeds collected data back to the virtual model based on insights detected by the processors. In turn, the AI and machine learning adapts to make improvements.

When capturing data, you can drill down to a specific component, focus on assets consisting of one or more components, or create unit twins to show you how assets come together. Process twins are the big picture level showing you how everything works together.

For example, representations of new products can be based on engineering drawings and specified dimensions, and the subcomponents enable you to understand the corresponding supply chain line from design to the consumer. This is a primary benefit of digital twins for manufacturers.

2. Sustainability

By shifting your designs to a virtual environment, you can adopt sustainable best practices, including:

  • Reducing carbon footprints by reducing the amount of raw materials required in the early stages of development
  • Minimizing the physical materials and energy used when developing products
  • Improved efficiency when gathering information at the testing stage to improve designs which in turn saves energy over the manufacturing cycle

You also reduce costs by eliminating all the expenses associated with byproducts, energy use, shipment costs, increased staff, and more. In addition, digital twins are “empirical,” so you can track the changes or tweaks made to the product, unlike photographs.

3. Simulate and test different scenarios

Because you can create different levels of digital twins, it becomes easier to undergo testing and simulation scenarios to identify potential issues. You can test right down to the component level to identify opportunities for functional improvements.

With the two-way flow of information, the virtual model uses the data collected to run simulations and study the different performance issues to discover solutions. All the while, the digital twin can provide valuable insights which are applied back to the original object.

With real-time adjustments, you can go into production more quickly, with confidence your product is safe and optimized for superior performance.

Faster production also helps you be the first to market with innovative product designs. As a result, going from concept to market becomes far more streamlined, giving you an edge over your competitors.

It also enables you to introduce new product versions more efficiently so your product constantly beats out other brands by maintaining a reputation for being the best both in performance and price.

Product simulation

The testing and simulation scenarios can also be applied to an even bigger picture. For example, virtual models can be created based on an entire factory. Using sensors on each machine, manufacturers can collect performance data for analysis by AI and machine learning software.

This data can be fed into the digital twin simulations to find ways to improve production, indicate when to perform maintenance, and limit waste related to products that don’t pass their quality control standards. As a result, the “as maintained” form of digital twins will enable manufacturers in the near future to optimize output.

4. Improve product design

Digital twins also make it easier to spot and fix design flaws. Before investing in your prototypes, you can experiment with different designs and configurations to find the best option. Overcoming design flaws before the prototype reduces the risk of returning to the drawing board, investing more time and money to perfect the design, and creating another prototype.

You also produce a safer product with refined techniques and ongoing simulation capabilities that help perfect the final product. Improved product design also contributes to faster production, which, again, helps keep you at least one step ahead of competing manufacturers.

Digital twin data can be stored and shared via Pimberly’s PIM, making it easier to get new products to sales and marketing channels to boost revenues. Click here to book a demo today.