Konecranes, a Finnish company that makes and service cranes and lifting equipment, has implemented Siemens’ digital innovation platform to speed product development and connect product and performance data.
The company is using MindSphere, an open, cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) operating system, and the Teamcenter digital lifecycle management software to leverage the digital twin and reduce the number of physical prototypes. This helps increase efficiency and decrease product validation time, says Juha Pankakoski, executive vice president of technology Konecranes. His company uses IoT to connect and synchronize the virtual (engineering design, analysis and simulation) and physical (testing and operational reliability) worlds.
In the past, the company’s product design process has been based more on an engineer’s experience and generally shared assumptions than measured facts from existing products, he says. Now it uses the concept of a digital twin.
“These assumptions often lead to non-optimized designs that are over engineered,” Pankakoski says. “With an integrated digital-twin platform we see major potential in speeding up the product development process, reducing prototypes, increasing traceability and thus improving quality and reduce development cost.”
Design, simulation and prototype testing organizations tend to operate in their own silos, often using out of date processes for their work, says Tony Hemmelgarn, chief executive officer at Siemens PLM Software.
Now the Konecranes, digital twin communicates among all aspects of the organization. It is used to review data and provide feedback around engineering, simulation and testing intent.
The digital twin has been reconsidered other areas in light of a number of new information and operations technologies, including the Internet of Things (IOT) and cloud and cognitive computing. It serves as a digital, exact replica of a product or factory. The digital aspect of this eliminates the need for prototypes, reduces the amount of time needed for development, improves quality of the final manufactured product and enables faster reiteration in response to customer feedback.
Mindsphere is part of Siemens Digital Enterprise Suite. It’s a connection available in the DES and it allows users to evaluate key performance indicators for its digital twin; data such as the number of items produced, analyses of downtime and failure rates, as well as viewing energy data.
With the Siemens platform, Konecranes has been able to connect the data from all of these organizations to create one 360-degree view of how prototypes are running and performing, and correlating requirements to real world performance data.
A closed-loop digital twin framework using IoT and product lifecycle management (PLM) technologies can lead to faster design issue resolution and shorter prototyping phases by leveraging virtual sensor data in product simulations to provide accurate results. It can also improve overall quality and a support downstream product lifecycle processes, Hemmelgarn says.
“Bringing together assets from both the physical and virtual domains provides a seamless framework of business data which can help eliminate rework, leverage factual data surrounding prototypes, and provide closed-loop feedback regarding physical and virtual assets,” he adds. “The proof of value of the digital twin achieved at Konecranes confirms the business value of integrated IoT and PLM technology.”