5 Benefits of Manufacturing Digital Twins
Industry 4.0 represents a booming period of innovation, with new technologies emerging to make work simpler. Digital twins have been around since the early days of digital connectivity, but they’re undergoing a notable resurgence of interest among producers now. 5G and the broader implementation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors are creating a foundation for powerful digital twins — and allowing manufacturers to reap the myriad benefits that come with them.
A closer look at digital twins
Digital twins are exact virtual replicas of objects, products, equipment, processes, supply chains, and people. In other words, a digital twin can copy an entire company’s business ecosystem.
Digital twins rely on data gathered by Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technologies embedded or attached to the original object, whether it’s a person, machine, or anything else. With the help of digital twins, engineers can better monitor systems, making strategic changes to see how systems and processes change in real time before implementing the adjustments to the original system.
The role of digital twins is expanding in the manufacturing sector. Forward-looking companies are using them for everything from supply chain management to quality control — all with the goal of improving efficiency and enhancing the overall customer experience. Digital twins can even be linked to computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP), enabling better equipment maintenance, including preventive maintenance that keeps production on track while unlocking greater efficiencies in day-to-day operations.
The benefits of connected equipment
Digital twins offer a wide range of benefits across the factory floor. Companies that embrace the IIoT’s cloud-based platforms and digital twins enjoy the following advantages:
- Better equipment management/visibility. Producers can use digital twins to assist with asset management. Engineers can look at digital twins of machines to see their real-time virtual equivalent and check parameters outlining equipment health and performance.
- Preventive and predictive maintenance. Digital twins help engineers identify key factors that point to the need for preventive repairs or maintenance before problems occur. They also can optimize tool calibration, load levels, and cycle times.
- Improved financial decision making. Digital twins identify areas where manufacturers can improve product quality and provide more efficient logistics management — benefits that translate to improved profitability.
- Better training opportunities for staff. There’s a growing skills gap in the manufacturing sector, and manufacturers are harnessing digital twin technology to change that. Digital twins help producers provide high-fidelity virtual reality training to improve proficiency and retention in subject matter. They offer a hands-on approach to training in a flexible setting, protecting both workers and equipment.
- Real-time monitoring and integrations. One of the primary benefits of digital twin technology is the ability to create accurate, real-time monitoring of assets. Engineers on the factory floor can monitor everything from waste management to worker safety, using data and analytics to monitor, diagnose, and resolve issues as they’re happening.
The long-term value of digital twins
Thanks to advancements in 5G and the IIoT, digital twins are becoming even more useful across the factory floor. They enable better decisions regarding people, processes, equipment, and more in the factories of today — and tomorrow.
By laying the framework for a truly preventive maintenance strategy, digital twins keep production lines running by reducing downtime, maximizing equipment lifespans, and even promoting worker safety. They represent a long-term investment in Industry 4.0 and the connected factory of the future.