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Enhancing Innovation and Agility with Digital Twin Technology in the Manufacturing Industry

Gartner’s 2019 “Application Strategies & Solutions Summit” highlighted the challenges manufacturers face in a world that continues to demand more accountability from the manufacturing industry. The discussed challenges included the need to increase revenue growth, enable greater agility with existing manufacturing processes and resources, and getting more value from plant floor data. During the conference, the digital twin was highlighted as a powerful tool for solving the complex problems the manufacturing industry faces today and is expected to face in the future.

And what is a Digital Twin?

Digital Twins are exact mirror representations of physical processes and faculties. The digital twin forms a cyber-physical environment with physical manufacturing processes where data transfer from the shop floor to the digital twin is possible. The virtual environment is modeled using the data captured from shop floor processes and the IIoT and edge hardware deployed within a manufacturing facility.

The virtual platform a digital twin offers is the perfect environment for answering ‘what-if’ questions and evaluating diverse sceneries which include:

  • Evaluating the effects of diverse constraints to Develop Agile manufacturing processes – Manufacturing outfits dealing with the challenges of a fluctuating demand cycle must understand the effect of such fluctuations on manufacturing schedules, master production plans, and available inventory.

Manufacturers can answer ‘what-if’ questions such as ‘how the addition of more equipment improves throughput or provide analysis about how to optimize production schedules to meet forecasted demand.”

  • Optimize Capacity Plans and Process Management – Digital twins provide insight at the facility level. With a digital twin, entire manufacturing facilities can be developed and analyzed to create optimized capacity plans and layouts for new facilities or refurbishment activities. The optimized plans enable manufacturers to improve product quality, efficiency-levels, and increase customer satisfaction rate.

The digital twin’s capacity to optimize manufacturing processes and assist enterprises with agile planning initiatives is the reason why 75% of manufacturers intend to integrate the digital twin into their decision-making processes.

Microsoft Features Simio Software as a Digital Twin Solution for Optimizing Manufacturing Processes

Microsoft’s drive to sell the benefits of digital twin technology to the manufacturing industry has led to the release of an EBook discussing multiple use cases where digital twin technologies have enhanced innovative strategies and supported agile planning. In this EBook titled ‘Enhance Innovation and Agility with Digital Twins’, the application of Simio Software to develop a digital twin that increased throughput and reduced operational cost was discussed.  The case study focused on a large-scale original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manufacturing robots, automation hardware, and heavy electrical equipment.

The Challenges:

The OEM struggled with scheduling its complex manufacturing processes, improving material and resource use while reducing manufacturing cost. The OEMs multi-faceted manufacturing operations made it difficult to visualize its facility-wide operations to create optimized master production plans to meet fluctuating demand.

The Implementation of Digital Twin Technology:

The OEM enlisted the assistance of the digital twin to solve its operational challenges. With Simio Software, the manufacturer created a digital twin of its entire manufacturing process to evaluate the effects of constraints such as increased customer demand and material availability to its production system.

The digital twin implementation process consisted of three major steps. These steps were: the digital modeling of the facility’s assets and operations, data collection and aggregation from plant floor sensors and SAP system, and establishing key monitoring systems to optimize the production workflow.

The Result:

During the period dedicated to data collection and implementation of Simio Digital Twin technology, the OEM witnessed continuous improvements to its manufacturing processes. The result was an optimized manufacturing schedule and master production plan which resulted in a substantial ROI, and reduced time-to-market duration for the OEM.

The digital twin helped the OEM autonomously schedule every task within its manufacturing facility and analyze manufacturing constraints affecting the facility’s operational processes. The manufacturer was also able to evaluate the impact of additional demand to easily and confidently respond faster around cost and timeline for competitive bids.

The visualization features of Simio Software ensured the OEM gained visibility into every aspect of its operations from equipment design to the production process and shipping.

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