17. Dezember 2021
3 Min.

Game4Automation - The Concept of digital Twins

The concept of digital twins is quite a trend nowadays. With a digital copy of a machine, it becomes possible to test many procedures without putting anything or anyone at risk. Such twins provide high quality simulations and are particularly interesting to run all kind of scenarios. To be more precise about how to build such twins, this blog will be about a specific tool to create digital twins : Game4Automation.
heavy automation robot arm machine in smart factory industrial,Industry 4.0 concept image.

Definition of a digital twin with use cases

Before speaking about Game4Automation and its possibilities, I want to define the term „digital twins for this article. We can in fact call any simulation „digital twin“ as long as it is considered a copy with all the characteristics of an existing system and object. But in this case we will talk about a true twin of machines with access to their state and design with the possibility to see the movements. In addition, we must be able to see what is happening in real time as well as running simulations. Lastly, we will admit to call digital twins models created before the actual real objects. It can’t truly be called a twin at such a stage, but is still interesting and destined to become the digital twin of the machine later. I will now list some use cases of digital twins.

Simulation

When you own a digital twin of your machine, you can run any scenario without any new costs except time. You just have to change parameters and run your model to test standard situations up to worst case scenarios, without harming your machine or stopping production. It is also great to have a visual simulation instead just a column of numbers, so that people who aren’t familiar with technical details can also comprehend the simulation. It becomes easy for everyone to search on how to improve operations or increase efficiency effectively.

Maintenance

Maintenance costs and efficiency are always important issues. Digital twins can give a real-time view of what’s happening with the equipment or other physical assets, far more easily than a list of numbers and the machine in front of a technician. The expert can make a diagnosis remotely, which can speed up the process of finding problems. If you ally this technology with AR-Tools such as the HoloLens, the process can get even faster with less costs. The employee can steadily be guided through the process for complex repairs by an expert while still working remotely. AR-Glasses will show him what to do und where. By this, the costs will reduce, since experts do not have to travel separately and, on the other hand, the error rate will drastically decrease.

CAD (Computer Aided Design)

With a digital twin, you can test new products or procedures before launching them into the real world where it it is usually more expensive and complicated to fix any issues. You can indeed get a glimpse of the machine before the building process and simultaneousley  test the logical model that you intend to use. That last point underlines that digital twin technology can help get comfortable with Internet of Things implementation and automation because we have the opportunity to simulate the application prior to going live. The development team can begin its work earlier and more easily as there is an actual model ready to make tests and easier to understand than plans or instructions.

As explained before, some can argue that „digital twin“ is no longer a good name if there is no machine to create a twin from, so we must perhaps find another name for the concept. However it seems interesting to always create the twin before the real machine, as you will still have it later for all the other uses presented here.

Trainings

With a digital twin and the use of XR technologies, it is possible to train employees to make technical moves. One of the most classical example is training surgeons by practicing procedures in a simulated environment rather than on a real patient, as a human body can be simulated based on real data of a specific patient and AI, even though Game4Automation is not recommended for such a case. This can also apply to the industry, where the life of the employee can be at stake if the procedures aren’t thoroughly followed. It can protect the machine from being harmed too, and it is generally less expensive to build a digital twin rather than a analog twin for training purposes. AR and VR technologies can both be used for such purposes, and it is important to underline that they are capable of more than just providing a substitute of the reality: they can give step by step instructions or color specific pieces in colors for example.

Conclusion

As you can see Digital Twins offer lots of possibilities, but one thing that occurred in more than one of these use cases is that the original machine is always available and protected from harm when you are conducting your operations on the digital twin instead of directly on it.

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