Real-world data combined with digital product simulations (digital twins) provide valuable insights that help companies identify and solve problems before prototypes go into production and manage products in the field, says Alberto Ferrari, senior director of Model- Based Digital. Raytheon thread processing capacity center.
“As they say,‘ All models are wrong, but some of them are useful, ’” says Ferrari. “Digital twins, backed up with data, as real facts, are a way to identify models that are really useful for decision making.”
The concept has begun to take off, with the technology and digital twin tools market growing 58% annually to reach $ 48 billion in 2026, up from $ 3.1 billion in 2020. technology to create digital prototypes saves resources, money and time. However, technology is also being used to simulate much more, from urban populations to energy systems to the deployment of new services.
Take manufacturers as diverse as Raytheon and the Swedish distillery Absolut Vodka, which use technology to design new products and streamline their manufacturing processes, from the supply chain to production, and finally to recycling and recycling. elimination. Singapore, London, and several cities on the Texas Gulf Coast have created digital twins for their communities to address facets of city management, such as shaping traffic patterns on city streets, analyzing construction trends, and predict the impact of climate change. And companies like Bridgestone and drone service provider Zipline are using technology combined with operational data to help launch new services.
Businesses have adopted digital twins as part of their digital transformations, a way to simulate performance, identify weaknesses, and operate services more efficiently. The digital initiative of any company should explore whether any facet of its product, operations or environment can be simulated to obtain information.
Design and manufacturing simulation
Today’s digital twin technologies are based on computer-aided design (CAD) and computer engineering tools developed more than three decades ago. These software systems allowed engineers to create virtual simulations to test changes in product designs. Engineers designed a product component, such as an aerodynamic surface, on a computer and then commissioned a modeler or sculptor to make the article out of clay, wood, or stock components for physical testing.
Today, the process has shifted from the prototyping stage to much later in the process, as the massive growth in computing power and storage allows not only prototyping the entire product, but also integrating other information, such as information on the supply of raw materials. materials, the components necessary for the manufacture and operation of the product in the field.
“If you look at these CAD and engineering tools from 30 years ago and look at them a little bit, you will see that these things were digital twins,” says Scott Buchholz, director of government technology and utilities and director of technology research. emerging from Deloitte. Consulting. “As the calculation and storage of power increased, the ability to make useful simulations increased and we went from low-fidelity representations to high-fidelity simulations.”
The result is that the technology of digital twins has taken several industries by storm. Manufacturers of expensive vehicles and infrastructure products benefit from shortening the design and development cycle, making aerospace companies, carmakers and town planning agencies the first adopters. However, startups are also adopting the mindset of simulating first to quickly repeat product improvements.
An important advantage: digital twins have pushed the physical construction of prototypes much further down the design process. Some companies pursuing zero prototyping initiatives aim to eliminate prototyping steps and allow direct manufacturing efforts, says Nand Kochhar, vice president of automotive and transportation industry at Siemens Digital Industries Software.
This is a big change from the past. “A typical product development lifecycle was six to eight years,” Kochhar says of car manufacturing. “The industry has been working on this, and now they have an 18 or 24 month life cycle. Now, car manufacturing is more dependent on software, which is becoming the life cycle determinant.”
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