Jumat, September 22, 2023

Manufacturers are turning to digital twins to streamline their supply chains

Manufacturers are increasingly turning to digital twin technologies to streamline their operations and supply chains.

Digital twins technically existed at least until the 1960s, when NASA experimented with virtual models during the Apollo program. Thanks to increasingly powerful sensors and software in recent years, manufacturers can now also take advantage of this technology and create live digital models of their products, machines and even production halls.

The idea of ​​digital twins is to save time and money. With these virtual simulations, manufacturers can experiment with new product designs, plan factory expansions and try out different machine parts first using digital replicas, which is often easier and faster, said Gary Fedder, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. .

“You can do virtual experiments to understand: how to make the factory more efficient?” Feder said. “The reason it’s so important is because it usually makes a lot of money.”

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, once implemented, these systems can provide tremendous benefits, including assisting with preventative maintenance, improving plant efficiency and even increasing cybersecurity.

Digital twins can also improve a company’s supply chain operations by allowing manufacturers to test different digital representations of facility layouts and model different manufacturing outcomes based on changing demand, said Patrick Penfield, professor of supply chain at Syracuse University.

Installing one of these systems is an investment. According to Fedder, manufacturers may need detailed measurements of different parts when using digital twins for product design. If the digital twin is to represent an assembly line, the manufacturer may need various sensors and a corresponding network to collect data from the actual assembly line.

Large companies use digital twins
More and more companies, including Microsoft and IBM, are now selling digital twin software packages to help manufacturers implement this approach. But the cost of installing one of these systems can be in the hundreds of thousands, Penfield said, and it can take a long process of trial and error before the system works properly.Lockheed Martin has begun using digital twin technology to shape the parts used in the wing lines of its F-35 aircraft, said Jan de Nijs, a digital twin associate at the company. . Parts are currently supplied in standard sizes, however the ‘actual’ dimensions required for fitment may differ which may cause assembly problems. The company now uses digital representations of these parts to simulate assembly and streamline the process of measuring individual parts.

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