Thought Leadership

Talking Aerospace Today – The Power of the Digital Twin Ep. #2 – Summary

By Quinn Foster

In the second episode of the Talking Aerospace Today podcast’s newest season, Todd Tuthill, Vice President of Aerospace & Defense (A&D) Strategy for Siemens Digital Industries Software, continues to explore the many benefits the digital twin can bring to the A&D industry. Joining him are Patty Russo, Global Marketing Manager for Siemens Digital Industries Software and the podcast’s new moderator, as well as Dale Tutt, the Vice President of Global Strategy for Siemens Digital Industries Software and Todd’s predecessor on the podcast. For the full discussion, you can listen to the episode, read the transcript, or continue reading for the high-level summary.

In this episode, they discussed many valuable points, but focused on why A&D companies should place more trust in the digital twin as well as how it can improve interoperability, supply chains, and sustainability throughout the A&D industry.

To truly capitalize on the digital twin, companies must learn to trust it, or as Todd puts it, companies must recognize the “truth” inherent in the digital twin. The truth in this case is a prototype’s integrity in representing the final product. Physical prototypes, for example, only give insight to its immediate conditions, which can be problematic if a company is asked to validate thousands of hours of operations across its lifecycle. As a virtual representation of the product, however, the digital twin can be used to run simulations across multiple stages of the product’s life in many different scenarios. As more of these virtual tests are performed, more confidence can be placed in the digital twin. This can even go on to reduce reliance on physical prototypes in the future, saving valuable time and money.

The digital twin also has great potential to increase interoperability and integration in the design of A&D products. After all, digital transformation is a journey started in pieces, but eventually those pieces need to be put together. A&D is a particularly suitable field for this level of interoperability since its products consist of multiple systems and components that must interface for the whole product to function. As the technology improves, the digital twin can integrate the virtual representations of these systems together, allowing engineers to test and develop them concurrently in a virtually integrated aircraft.

Until then, the digital twin can start improving the flow of data between engineering domains. With so many teams working together on a single product, having easy access to data is crucial for success. Despite the move away from document-based systems of engineering, data is still confined to inefficient exchanges of Microsoft Excel sheets, leaving engineers hunting for data instead of doing more consequential engineering work. By integrating data around the digital twin—a single source of truth—engineers no longer need to worry about managing data and can return to the work they love.

The same integration of data can be used to help overcome the supply chain issues currently swamping the A&D industry. Many A&D supply chains suffer from unforeseen disruptions, leading to stalled development as companies wait for parts to be delivered. By integrating digital logistics data, such as component lead times and shipping routes taken, engineers can predict and mitigate potential disruptions by adapting their designs accordingly. With better transparency and visibility between OEMs, suppliers, and clients, engineers can integrate supply chain data into their design processes and ensure their progress is not interrupted by disruptions.

Lastly, the digital twin can be an invaluable tool in increasing sustainability. As A&D companies seek to reduce emissions, they now have a new set of requirements to navigate and must remain innovative while still being able to afford what they are doing. Additionally, new sustainable propulsion systems will impact an entire aircraft, everything from mechanical structures and electronics to thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. The digital twin’s virtual testing capabilities will give engineers the testing grounds to optimize these new system designs and learn from the results before ever building a physical aircraft. With the digital twin, engineers can have the time and environment needed to design optimal sustainable aircraft that will be safe and functional for the future of aviation.

The digital twin offers numerous benefits that can alleviate many of today’s challenges in the A&D industry. As long as companies put their trust and investment in the digital twin, it can be incredibly helpful with integrating critical data and improving communication between engineering domains. Those strategies can then help predict supply chain disruptions before they ever arise, as well as accelerate the industry’s drive towards sustainable aviation. With so many capabilities at their fingertips, A&D companies equipped with the digital twin can better handle whatever challenges come their way.

Be sure to check out the full podcast episode or transcript as well.

Siemens Digital Industries Software helps organizations of all sizes digitally transform using software, hardware and services from the Siemens Xcelerator business platform. Siemens’ software and the comprehensive digital twin enable companies to optimize their design, engineering and manufacturing processes to turn today’s ideas into the sustainable products of the future. From chips to entire systems, from product to process, across all industries, Siemens Digital Industries Software is where today meets tomorrow.

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