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How Digital Lookalikes Are Revolutionizing Machine And Plant Engineering

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How Digital Lookalikes Are Revolutionizing Machine And Plant Engineering
How Digital Lookalikes Are Revolutionizing Machine And Plant Engineering

Video: How Digital Lookalikes Are Revolutionizing Machine And Plant Engineering

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Until recently, the performance of production facilities could only be monitored by physically inspecting the products they produced. This had many disadvantages. It was not only tedious and time-consuming - it was particularly problematic and expensive because the designers had little chance of reworking their prototypes before they held the finished product in their hands. What happened on the way from the starting material to the end product remained largely hidden.

Today, things are different: microsensors and special software allow fine-meshed management of production lines, with efficiency gains that are as significant as they are much praised. This was made possible by a concept in which every aspect of an object, however small, is captured and reproduced in digital form using this data in the cloud. The software presentation of the object is referred to as a digital twin.

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The digital twin concept is by no means new; the first forerunners were introduced by the University of Michigan in 2001. However, only recent advances in industrial networking and machine intelligence helped him to make a breakthrough. In the meantime, digital twins have conquered the Internet of Things and are rapidly becoming the preferred technology for digitizing the physical world. Put simply, data on the structure, context and behavior of a physical object is combined with an interface that allows insights into the past and the present as well as predictions about the future.

Measurable benefits from planning to production

The digital copy of a product can be tested, modified and optimized at will during the entire development process. If the product actually goes into industrial production, it is characterized by maximum efficiency. But that's not all: by providing important feedback over the entire product life, the digital doppelganger does not reduce prototyping and construction costs, but also enables effective error prediction, lower maintenance costs and less downtime.

The digital twin concept enables efficiency gains to be made throughout the entire production chain. A wind farm in which all of the turbines are doubled by a digital twin should serve as an example. Using the digital images, each wind turbine can be precisely configured before procurement and assembly. During operation, the virtual wind turbines can then use the data of their real counterparts to optimize the power generation of the overall system by making small changes to parameters such as generator torque or blade speed.

However, the advantages of digital twins are by no means limited to the optimization of production processes - ultimately, they can make every process in the company more efficient. Complex processes and systems generally generate large amounts of data. If several of these processes or systems e.g. B. linked to each other via the Internet, the number of data increases exponentially. With the help of analytics software, this data can be used for predictive statements, while a rule engine converts the statements into concrete actions.

Developers and software engineers also benefit from digital images. Bundling digital twins with data intelligence gives you a 360-degree view of the past and possible future performance of your assets. The continuous flow of early warning, forecasting and behavioral data enables the algorithms behind the processes and products to be refined on an ongoing basis and, last but not least, better execution planning and a longer asset life.

Smooth M2M communication

However, the large number of providers and innovative manufacturing processes do not always make it easy for machine and plant manufacturers to implement an effective digital twin strategy. The scenario designed above is an ideal picture in which the digital twin concept is implemented across the entire supply chain by everyone involved and thus brings all advantages. It can only become a reality if the exchange of information between the machines involved functions smoothly. For Tibco, this is an incentive to take a leading role in the integration of IoT devices.

Project Flogo and the Tibco Graph Database serve as pillars of the Tibco approach. Project Flogo is an ultra-light integration solution that can outsource computing operations to very small devices and is particularly flexible due to its open-source design. The integration engine is so lean that the average installation size is up to 20 times lower than that of common middleware like Node.js and up to 50 times lower than that of Java.

Despite its compactness, Project Flogo uses the powerful Translytical Tibco Graph Database, so that developers have the greatest possible freedom of design when creating IoT environments. The Tibco Graph Database translates a network of dynamic data into meaningful, understandable and traversable relationships from which insights and actions can be gained.

More connectivity on the way to the digital doppelganger

With the coupling of Project Flogo and Graph Database, Tibco makes a significant contribution to the digital twin concept. Together, the two Tibco technologies improve connectivity, make the Internet of Things smarter and expand the boundaries of digital business for companies. Your success shows once again what outstanding results the combination of a lightweight, powerful reporting tool and the massive computing and storage power of the cloud can bring. (mz)

* Maurizio Canton is CTO EMEA at TIBCO Software

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