Digital Twin unlocks sustainability potential

Using digital twins to become a Digital Enterprise enables companies to simulate everything to the optimum and increase both sustainability and profitability

Sustainability is one of industry’s major challenges. It’s not only about using less resources and emitting less CO2, but also about being profitable at the same time. It requires deep understanding of all workflows and processes across the entire company. By combining the real and digital worlds, every company can become a Digital Enterprise, which can be done at speed and scale with Siemens Xcelerator. Then you can collect, understand, and use the data generated in your company in an even more intelligent way.  

Combining the real and digital worlds 

What does that look like in practice? Let’s take the example of an all-electric car. It was successfully launched on the market and since then is generating a large amount of performance data while being driven. A Digital Enterprise can collect this data and feed it into the digital twin of the car – its precise virtual replica. This combination of the real and digital worlds enables new optimization possibilities that manufacturers have not even dared to dream of until now.

 

How do we know that the real car and its digital twin match perfectly, including physical behavior, performance, range, and all other aspects? It’s because we’ve created the SimRod, a technology-carrier that provides us with a calibrated physical model that is connected to a range of Siemens simulation software. Calibration ensures that every aspect of the digital twin matches the real-world vehicle. This allows us to search for optimization potential, simulate it until we’ve reached the full potential and then test the car in the real world to validate the changes.

Using real-world data for simulation 

The SimRod is a technology carrier that shows how any sized company in any industry can meet their sustainability and profitability goals. It also applies not just to production facilities, but also to buildings and infrastructure. 

 

Car manufacturers, for example, can use the real-world data of their car fleet, feed it into the digital twin, and let their engineers search for new ways to increase the reach and performance of their vehicles. In general, this can lead to lower cost for prototyping and 40% less physical testing and an improved ownership experience for the car owner.

Weight reduction thanks to additive manufacturing 

One way to increase the range of electric cars is to reduce weight. For example, the engineers redesigned the steering knuckles with generative design and topology optimization with NX. The result: 30% less weight compared to the original design, but the same robustness. Simulation also validates the manufacturability – in this case, additive manufacturing and having a robot process and post-process the part automatically is the most sustainable and profitable way to produce it. Production can be planned fully digitally as well. This means that processes, material flows, production lines etc. are simulated and optimized before production begins. 

Seamless flow of data in a true Digital Enterprise 

In a true Digital Enterprise, there are no information silos. So, the transition from the digital twin of the car to 3d-printing the steering knuckles with additive manufacturing to assembling all parts is seamless and can be fully automated. Automation is also key in increasing flexibility and energy efficiency in production. With the help of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and mobile robots, previously rigid production lines can be transformed into highly flexible, efficient workstations. These work together in an optimal way via a reliable wireless communications network using Industrial 5G, which ensures real-time communication between many moving parts.

 

Data also drives transparency, which helps to reduce energy consumption in both production and buildings. We’ve seen examples of 14% savings in electric energy and 40% less natural gas consumption as well as up to 60% additional energy savings thanks to energy-efficient motors. And the data keeps flowing even when the new car hits the road. The vehicle continuously collects data from real-world operations to keep the digital twin updated – allowing the manufacturer to simulate and virtually test further adjustments to the vehicle’s software and hardware for continuous improvement.

 

This optimization loop continuously helps manufacturers meet their goals of increasing sustainability and profitability.


 

August 2022