Digital twins: Faster, easier, and reusable

New modular strategy for simulation 

Digital twins have huge potential to improve product workflows. But the complexity of the necessary procedures is often an impediment to their use. DT Ops is designed to set a new trend in digital twins.

There are some market analyses that really make you sit up and listen, such as this one from Markets &Markets on digital twins: The market for digital twins is huge, with double-digit annual growth. Most companies (85%) have recognized this trend, and have already drawn up plans for ways to make use of digital twins. But surprisingly few companies (only 8 percent) have put their plans into practice so far. And only 35 percent of companies have made a start in this direction. 

DT Ops – A modular approach to the Digital Twin

“Many companies often lack enough experts in digital twins or fail at the organizational structure level to use digital twins scalably, in other words, so they can be expanded and adapted,” observes Benjamin Lee, a simulation expert at the Siemens research division, Technology. “We want to make it easier for our customers to use digital twins and to shorten the time needed to develop and adapt them. That’s why we developed a strategy we call DT Ops (Digital Twin Operations). DT Ops is a modular approach to the Digital Twin. It includes best practices and tools to combine modeling and simulation of digital twins (DT) with IT operations (Ops) to manage the lifecycles of digital twins. The individual modules are scalable and reusable, which makes us much faster.”

 

 Digital-Twin - Definition

A digital twin is a model which describes how a real original item – a machine, component, process, etc. – behaves. Mathematical functions describe how the relevant variables – input values, physical parameters (e.g. friction or temperature), and output values, for example – depend on each other. Such a function could determine, for example, that the temperature in a motor increases by one degree for each minute it is in operation.

Executable digital twins make the difference

There are standard mathematical procedures for developing digital twins, although these are so specialized and often so far from being readily accessible that it isn’t easy for most engineers and IT specialists to use them – for example, a range of linear and non-linear approximation algorithms to use functions to simulate measured data curves, or model reduction procedures. Moreover, the models have to be packed in a format that will enable them to run in an appropriate simulation environment on the right hardware  (e.g. SIMATIC IOT2000, or SIMATIC IPC227E).

“Thanks to DT Ops we can offer our customers Executable Digital Twins (xDT),” Lee says. “By that we mean self-contained, easily adaptable and reusable simulation systems which keep their complicated mathematical inner life out of sight. When we supply our customers with an xDT, they get a model that meets their requirements for speed and accuracy, and also comes with an integrated simulation environment. They can use the xDT directly and also adapt it with no need for expert mathematical know-how. We provide the right tools to do this in DT Ops. And at the same time, we can offer many more basic modular components, e.g. components that let you continuously calibrate and update your models while they’re running.”

 

Experience from more than 50 simulation projects

The modular DT Ops system builds on the experience gained from more than 50 simulation projects monitored by Siemens Technology in recent years for various domains and different lifecycle stages.

Special focus on industrial IoT systems

Industrial production offers especially strong potential to apply even more simulation. This is where IoT systems are currently being developed that involve complex communication sequences between the individual devices. “Simulation lets us make systems and products smarter – and that’s exactly what the end customers expect,” comments Lee. “And DT Ops makes it easier and faster to make use of simulation – with intuitive workflows and solutions, for example. In particular, DT Ops also complements current product developments in DI Software, so the appropriate technologies can also be used for highly specialized in-house simulation tools.”

Aenne Barnard  - July 2021

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