7 Inspiring Examples of Using Digital Twin in Manufacturing
Discovering how giant enterprises employ digital twin technology for product excellence.
Simulation of the “what if” scenario in the mass production industry allows us to understand the current state and possible ways to improve the functioning of factories. Shortly, this is the basic principle of digital twin operation.
Interesting fact: mass production is one of the largest industries that use virtual replicas. They copy the state and changes of assets, people, factories, or product lines. So let’s see how well-known companies use the technology.
What Is the Digital Twin Value in the Manufacturing Industry? 🏭
Along with IoT and big data, DT development is currently the major driver of digital transformation in manufacturing. The stats are quite revealing: the mass production industry is the largest market for digital twin services. The global value of the DT market for manufacturers is predicted to reach 6.69 billion in 2025, as stated by Statista.
In the section below, we will explore how exactly it accelerates the production processes in manufacturing and achieve higher efficiency.
But what is a digital twin in manufacturing, by definition?
The digital twin recreates physical objects, assets, and operations, allowing for timely and cost-effective optimization, process monitoring, improvement, and maintenance. The virtual twin in manufacturing leverages the most recent operational data to create a fully-synchronized replica that the decision-makers can rely on.
In smart manufacturing, a digital twin connects the industrial IoT to its physical counterpart, which serves to build an abstraction of a real-world object in a digital space. The metrics from the object are then used to model and predict its status in the ever-changing working environment.
The most revolutionary thing about applying the digital twin for manufacturing is a step from analyzing the past to recreating real-time dynamics and predicting the future. For businesses, this means avoiding unnecessary expenses and achieving a competitive advantage.
The digital twin model evolves and reflects real-life changes in processes, personnel, and machinery. The DT system not only improves the productivity of a single production line but is also able to adjust the production network of interconnected systems and intelligently respond to changing business requirements.
Read more: Digital Twin Development Benefits and Costs
Learn ways digital twin technology can update your businesses
Real Use Cases of Using Digital Twin in Manufacturing 📋
Despite the fact that creating digital twins is a relatively new approach, it is already widely embraced by industry giants across a number of segments, from consumer electronics to energy tech. As of today, the list of companies using digital twins to boost their manufacturing processes includes:
#1. Renault Group (Automotive)
The French automotive giant uses the product digital twin approach to develop virtual copies of real-world vehicles before they are produced. The product journey begins with creating the virtual vehicle design: from shape and appearance up to the smallest details of the interior. After the design is ready, the engineering department begins working on the virtual model of all the technological parts: engine, electronics, mechanics, and navigation systems included.
Building a digital twin as detailed as this one enables Renault to test their vehicles before the actual verified design and engineering draft hits production and ensure maximum safety. The manufacturers can check if the vehicle’s modules comply with existing standards and make changes, if necessary, before assembling the actual product.
#2. Kaeser (Machinery Manufacturing)
The German compressor production and service firm is another manufacturer on the list of companies using digital twins. Kaeser uses digitization to expand its product range. Rather than selling compressor units and leaving customers to operate them, the company adopted an as-a-service model. The customer gets charged based on their air consumption rates, and the company leads the unit through its lifecycle along with all the necessary maintenance and repairs.
The DT lets the vendor know about everything that happens to a product or asset before the customers even notice any changes in the unit’s operations or behavior. The digital twin process enables Kaesen to eliminate problems before they become possible and develop predictive maintenance programs for their products.
#3. Unilever PLC (FMCG)
This manufacturing giant offers us one of the most impressive digital twin use cases in manufacturing. The company started out by building 8 DTs of its factories located in different world regions. As of 2020, Unilever has completed more than 100 digital manufacturing sites to create a virtual model of the entire supply chain.
This approach is helping to Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant to boost productivity, cut waste, optimize material usage, and ensure high compliance and quality. Every factory process gets monitored with sensors sending data to an enterprise cloud where the DT is recreated. The employees on sites can assess the DT data via handheld devices, model problems and solutions, and share data with colleagues.
#4. Boeing (Aviation and Aerospace)
The world’s largest aerospace company is using DTs for aircraft modeling, engineering, and design. The need to organize, manage and derive information from loads of data prompted Boeing to create a digital twin of every asset and system involved in production. Boeing plans to share the results of this fundamental project with the supply chain participants.
The DTs are now helping the airspace giant to predict product components’ performance in varying conditions, and plan repairs and replacements. Boeing’s other digital twin use cases in manufacturing include calculating cargo balances for the optimal and safe use of cargo room on board the plane.
#5. Bridgestone (Tire Manufacturer)
Another company using DTs is Bridgestone. The world’s top producer of tires and rubber uses product DTs to estimate how various conditions including driving styles will impact their products. This helps vehicle fleets pick the optimal tire options for their purposes. Thus, the application of DTs helps increase product lifespans and protect the wheels from breakages.
The company also uses virtual models to test and design its products. Running tests in a virtual environment helps Bridgestone accelerate production by almost 50%. The DT application also enables the company to share virtual twins of their upcoming products with partners for approval.
#6. FMC Technologies (EnergyTech)
In the energy sector, the oil and gas service company FMC Technologies is taking advantage of DT to improve the quality of their processes, detect and eliminate operation bottlenecks, and plan production in advance to meet future market needs. The company initially implemented DTs to maximize output and adjust its manufacturing lines to higher product quantities.
As a result of the digital twin implementation, the company managed to examine and optimize operational processes, evaluate resource requirements, reduce risks and make informed decisions about equipment spending. FMC Technologies expanded the production throughput by 50%, due to digital manufacturing.
#7. Electrolux (Electronics)
The Swedish domestic electronics manufacturer runs 48 production sites and has a comprehensive digitization strategy. Its first steps involved the simultaneous launch of several manufacturing projects. Consequently, the company plans to create digital twins for all of its production facilities.
The company built a simulation of both the factory and the material flow in order to boost production capacity and efficiency. Due to the implementation of the pilot project, Electrolux managed to bring the products and manufacturing lines to the desired standard. Further, the company plans to launch a series of employee training to familiarize all its workers with the DTs.
The examples above should have given you an answer to the question of ‘What is digital twin in manufacturing?’ and inspirations on how you could use this technology to boost the efficiency of your facility. In the next section, we will cover the essential technology for custom digital twin development.
Final Words 💬
The rapid development of technologies and the growth of competition encourage more and more companies to use virtual twins. Depending on your goals and the specifics of the industry, the digital solution may be different. But one thing is certain — the idea of the digital twin is the driver that boosts the efficiency of your facility.
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