Optima, of Germany, which makes packaging systems, recently created a digital twin of one of its transport systems by using software from Siemens PLM to digitally map the system as it moved through the design and manufacturing process.
Engineers at Optima wanted a way to test, develop, and validate their designs digitally. But they wanted to take that process even further. Engineers wanted to see—even before the system was manufactured–how it would operate once in use. A digital twin allows that, said Jim Rusk, Siemens chief technology officer. He spoke at Siemens PLM Connection, held earlier this month in Indianapolis.
The Digital Twins are accurate, smart models that are enabled by a continuous digital thread of information. They simulate all aspects of the product and the production lifecycle, Ruck said.
A digital twin can help further develop design ideas before actual manufacture beings, Rusk added. In fact, a comprehensive computerized model of the product allows for nearly 100 percent of the product to be virtually validated and tested while under design. All 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, he added.
Siemens supports the design phase with industrial software within its Digital Enterprise Suite (DES) for modeling and simulating the functional machine design. The entire suite makes it possible to create a seamless digital process chain, starting with product and machine design and continuing through the engineering right on to production automation, Rusk said.
The machine’s design information is loaded into the model during the design phase and engineers made digital design changes. The resulting digital twin allows changeover operations and product flow to be simulated across the entire lifecycle of the machine, he said.
Using a cloud connection available in the DES called Mindsphere, Optima could also 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 energy data, Rusk added.
The Optima transport system can be integrated into existing intralogistics systems. The latter manage the logistical flow of material goods within a fulfillment or distribution center or a warehouse. It does this by optimizing and automating the flow of information pertaining to those goods. With the help of the new transport system, machine manufacturers and manufacturing companies can adapt their production lines and machines quickly to different formats, sizes and product types and to seasonal requirements, according to an Optima statement.
And the system itself was tied to a digital twin before the improved transportation was even produced.
DES allows manufacturing companies to streamline and digitize their business process, integrating suppliers into the mix and to develop and introduce new products to market faster than in past development cycles, Rusk adds.
Siemens supports digital twins for product design, manufacturing process planning, and production through its Smart Factory loop and via its Smart Product offerings.