SUNConferences, 29th Annual Conference of SAIIE

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Pilot Production Environments driven by digital twins
Eric Lutters

Last modified: 2018-10-17


Establishing production environments requires joint decision making by stakeholders from many different disciplines at different levels of aggregation. Given all uncertainties and interdependencies, such endeavors are complex, resource-intensive, high-risk and error-prone. This is especially true for the many situations where production processes, resources, machine tools, materials or product designs are innovative beyond currently available expertise and experience. Here, unpredictability and risks often preclude tenable investments. However, digital twins, interwoven with physical pilot plants, can become the backbone for decisive development of production environments, purposefully and feasibly integrating technical, logistic and business viewpoints. Such a digital twin synthesizes sensoring/measurement (in-situ & ex-situ) with modelling and simulation of existing and evolving resources/processes. Simultaneously, it facilitates ‘what-if’ analyses on e.g. scenarios, use cases and investment decisions, at operational, tactical and strategic level. Digital twins impart a modular, reconfigurable, scalable and evolving environment, with a ‘virtual cockpit’ allowing for (remote) integrated analyses, interactions and control. On completion of the physical pilot production environment, digital twins also administer the actual transfer/integration of the pilot resources and results in the primary process of the client. A case study at Technology Base Twente demonstrates the applicability of digital twins driving the development of (pilot) production environments.