Digital TwinReal time connectivity and process transparency
“The Digital Twin is a set of virtual information constructs that fully describes the potential or actual physical product from micro atomic level to macro geometrical level.
As its optimum, any information that could be obtained inspecting a physical manufactured product can be obtained from its Digital Twin."
Grieves & Vickers, 2016
The Digital Twin is a virtual representation of a material or immaterial object of the real world that not necessarily exists, e.g. in the design phase of a machine. As the concept of Digital Twins is universal, it can thus be applied to almost everything: to machines, tools, processes, human capital, production, and quality KPI, and so on. The characteristics of this informations are also various and cover all kinds of data sources, e.g., process data, master data, meta data, or ERP data. Algorithms and applications in general may help to enrich this information.
Digital Twins are part of the supply chain throughout the entire lifecycle of products, machines, processes, or services and offer different value and advantages at each stage. Already applied in the design phase, the Digital Twin can handle complex product requirements or fast cycles of development and test different designs with specific simulations to make physical prototyping more and more redundant. This results in time and cost savings in the development of new products and optimizes aggregates and processes already in the design phase. Simulating functionalities and behavior with respect to every relevant aspect, lowers the degree of uncertainty. Since all functionalities can be simulated, commissioning is easier, and processes are error-free.
A Digital Twin offers the possibility of monitoring and reducing risks, which may lead, for example, to a rise in the overall availability of a machine or a process line. Robust prognoses regarding the properties, the quality, and the behavior of products and machines can be identified as well as replacement planning and investigations of upcycling potentials. The concept of the Digital Twin leads to a holistic view on products, machines, processes, and the entire supply chain in real-time. This makes communication between suppliers, producers, and customers easier since they share the same level of knowledge.
All relevant plant, machine or product related information is gathered and visualized in a ean and easily understandable way. It is even possible to display real time process data in a 3D replication of the real object where they appear.
With the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence, critical aspects of processes, plant condition and availability, and product quality can be predicted and then adjusted to current circumstances.
Being a system supplier for the metals industry, SMS group is able to provide mechanics, electrics and automation, serviced, and digitalization from one hand. All those data, plans, layouts, and information can easily be broad together in a digital twin for SMS equipment. Integrating third-party equipment of course is possible, too.
Testing new products or production routines on the Digital Twin is less expensive and faster than real test campaigns. Process optimization and finetuning can be carried out while avoiding risks and production losses.
The ideal replication of the real machines and processes in the virtual world combined with a 3D visualization created directly out of the construction plans makes it easier and faster for new operators or service staff to learn everything about it – from simple maintenance tasks to complex process control.
By providing the design and behavior of a whole plant with all its processes, material flows and working routines, it is possible to recognize bottle necks in material or crane logistics by means of production simulation. Changing parameters, machines and locations lead to an optimized plant design with optimum production conditions.
The Digital Twin application mainly serves as a centralized and unified interface. This means that all applications of the SMS group, SMS digital, and its customers and also third-party apps are invited to connect to the twin to become part of it. The idea is to supply all the knowledge and results bundled in existing applications to the Digital Twin to enrich its data. This way, the Digital Twin keeps growing and becomes more and more reliable with the amount of applications connected to it. The fact that a Digital Twin instance is bound to a unique real object further simplifies the identification in the virtual world for external applications that tend to use their own ID to track objects.
Casting steel with a high amount of copper leads to the effect of hot shortness. This means that the copper in the steel bath tends to agglomerate at the surface of the strand.
The product quality is related to the state of the machine and as well to the process and its control. Optimizing in regard to only one of these aspects is consequently not optimal.
Information about the state of a plant and the production is not reachable at all or only filtered to display some special KPIs.
Operators need to learn how to control and optimize the process. This is necessary for new operators but even for experienced operators that are facing changing circumstances and that have to adapt. Money is lost by wrong or not optimal process control.