Bi-directional digital twins?

Bi-directional digital twins?

I’ve been catching up on some reading during the weekend. The following article by Tech-Clarify caught my attention – Siemens Digital Twin strategy.  Jim Brown from Tech-Clarify is sharing his inside on Siemens PLM strategy. I found it interesting because it touches two modern trends (or buzzwords) you can hear a lot these days – digitalization and digital twin.

Here is an interesting passage and picture:

Siemens is focusing a lot of attention, and resources, on helping companies progress on their digital twin journey. The digital twin is an important concept that ties digital designs to their physical counterparts. The term isn’t new, but it’s getting a lot more attention recently, particularly because of the ability to collect and analyze real product data from the field via the IoT.

Not everybody uses the term “digital twin” in the same way. Siemens PLM’s view of the digital twin is primarily around creating digital models that can accurately predict the behavior of products. In fact, Siemens has a vision for multiple digital twins, for example to allow companies to simulate a product being manufactured on a virtual twin of the product line that creates it.

However, my favorite passage is this one:

Does a “Twin” have to include feedback from the physical twin? Does it have to be bi-directional? Is a model really a twin? Some will say a virtual model, no matter how completely it can simulate reality, is not a twin. We try to focus more on the business value that companies can get from these concepts than a strict definition. In the end, the definition isn’t as important because Siemens addresses these aspects as well.

Digital twin refers to a digital replica of physical assets (physical twin), processes and systems that can be used for various purposes. The digital representation provides both the elements and the dynamics of how an Internet of things device operates and lives throughout its life cycle.

I found an earlier picture Siemens PLM provided in the context of using models and simulations across multiple representations of lifecycle. It called intelligent models.

The exchange of data between each silo in product development and manufacturing is an important element of PLM implementations. It was around as long as I remember PLM concept. Bi-directional data exchange is coming from that time as well. You have models and data and the information must flow in between to support your models functions, process and communication between people.

What is my conclusion? Digital twins is a new fancy word in PLM marketing circa 2018. Together with digitalization and digital transformation, digital twins are used a new name to explain a strategy of information and behavior modeling in vertical integration. The last one is important to understand. Because vertical integration between models in design, production planing and real world can help to optimize manufacturing. And this is what all manufacturing companies are looking for. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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