FAQs about the value of the digital twin

By: Zvi Feuer and Zvika Weissman 

The digital twin makes it possible for you to introduce new products to the market faster than ever before, and companies are taking notice. It provides companies the means to design, validate and optimize parts, products, processes and production facilities in the virtual world.

With a host of new capabilities, information and outputs, the value of the digital twin is more appealing than ever to companies looking for ways to gain an edge over the competition. Siemens has long recognized the value of the digital twin in our own software, so we know how to support companies looking to implement the digital twin in its business processes for this competitive edge.

In the first part of our series on the value of the digital twin, we examined Siemens’ history with the digital twin and the three pillars of deploying a digital twin. Here, we answer some of the most common questions we receive about the digital twin. 

The value of the digital twin and your company

The digital twin’s value and capabilities has grown in recent years.

There’s been a tremendous evolution of manufacturing process planning and simulation software tools, so much so that today, they can accurately represent the processes that will take place on the shop floor, thus dramatically increasing the ability to foresee any issues.

This fact also contributes to the return on investment for adopting the digital twin, for which the investment is not small, and therefore must assure a solid return.

The integration with shop floor operations has made great strides and opens valuable feedback channels. This ensures that the digital twin really represents the shop floor process over time, and takes into account the many changes that naturally occur there in real life.

The evolution of the Manufacturing Operations Management domain, for example, is perceived (and treated) more and more as a PLM discipline rather than as an independent shop floor discipline. 280Siemens-Digital-Twin.jpgThe value of the digital twin has grown in recent years as the digital twin’s role has expanded and evolved.

What can we expect next with the digital twin?

We can expect to see these things happen as the digital twin continues to grow and evolve. 

• Richer representation and integration of all production aspects – mechanical, control and electrical, software, etc. 

• More flexibility to create a digital twin that can be used for diversified production processes (for example, heat treatment)

• Better integration of the supply chain in your organization for the orchestrated creation (and maintenance) of the digital twin

• Increased ability to connect real shop floor machinery, thus minimizing the gap between the digital twin and the real world

• Including the shop floor facility and equipment lifecycle (planning, operation, maintenance) as a part of the digital twin

• Better integration of the production processes and quality inspection processes 

Why are so many companies discussing the value of the digital twin? 

Computer technology, combined with new developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, 3D printing, advanced and low cost sensors and Big Data analytics – will enable the digital twin to become a reality in all of the domains described above.

The convergence of these technologies will enable almost all manufacturing companies to develop their own versions of the digital twin and deploy it for their own product design and manufacturing planning processes. 

What does it take to build a digital twin in your organization? 

Some of the tools are available today, some are still in development and some are in early experimentation. Nevertheless, every manufacturing company can start working on it and move closer to a functional digital twin with these basic steps. 

The first step is to decide to that you want to put the digital twin to work.

The second step is to put the right organizational setup in place. This should be a small group derived of a few domain-related interdisciplinary teams.

The third step is to work with these teams and develop a digital twin company strategy. The strategy should be long-term, easy to explain and understand and simple to execute.

The last step is to develop a set of reasonable Key Performance Indicators that will help measure the progress made on each of the trajectories. 

This concludes our series on the value of the digital twin.

About the authors

Zvi Feuer is senior vice president of Manufacturing Engineering Software for Siemens PLM Software, a business unit of the Siemens Digital Factory Division. He has more than 25 years of experience in Enterprise Software business management, with a primary focus in the Manufacturing Industries. He has worked for: the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI); Digital Equipment, a leading provider of d system integration projects; and since 1995, with Tecnomatix, UGS and Siemens. Feuer’s current responsibilities include leading global teams and initiatives to develop and service customers worldwide and providing Manufacturing Engineering Software solutions. These solutions include optimizing production and service facilities, assembly line design, developing and validating production systems and programming CNC machines in major machine shops. Feuer received his Master of Science in industrial engineering from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and also received an executive MBA from UCLA – NUS.

Zvika Weissman has more than 15 years of experience in the PLM market, dealing with Digital Manufacturing Software tools business development, marketing, engineering and support. He is currently the aerospace and defense Business Development Director, in the Siemens Industry SW Manufacturing Engineering SW Solution segment. In his previous role, Weissman helped deploy Digital Manufacturing tools within leading automotive, aerospace, machinery and consumer goods companies in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific. In this role, he gained special expertise in using digital manufacturing planning and simulation tools such as Teamcenter Manufacturing Process Planner, Process Designer, Robcad, Process Simulate and Plant Simulation. He analyzed companies’ business and engineering processes and developed workflows to establish as part of the companies’ continuous improvement processes. Weissman holds Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Technion Israeli institute of Technology, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Tel-Aviv University.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/thought-leadership/2017/02/06/faqs-about-the-value-of-the-digital-twin/