Contemplating use of “Digital Twin” for Industry 4.0 ?….. How deep and wide is your Simulation?

One part of implementing Industry 4.0 deals with pre-validation of Products, Manufacturing Processes, Propositions in the “Virtual World”, by extensively using Simulations, through “Digital Twin” CAD Models of Products, machines, fixtures, cutting tools etc. The idea is to be able to predictively optimize the Design, Manufacturing feasibility, Quality, Cost and Performance in upstream “Soft” stage; sparing Costly, Time Consuming iterations in physical world and the uncertainty that it carries with it right through the process.

This “Virtual Proving” is as good as the depth and spread of Simulation algorithms. Before depending too much on predictive forecast one has to consider this vital question: “How deep and wide is the Simulation?”

There could be many kinds of Simulations with varying depth, rigor and spread:

  1. Only 3D CAD models are used primarily for visualization , virtual assembly / dismantling and dimensional measurements.
  2. Above with animated movements and detection of fouling / collision
  3. Solid models are used with impressed kinematic, static and dynamic forces and heat maps are generated for stress, strain, deflection, vibration
  4. All of above with heat flow, temperature mapping and Computational Fluid Dynamics
  5. Simulation of Machining and Assembly Cycle time and ergonomics
  6. Simulation of sheet forming and defects
  7. Simulation of processes for casting, forging, welding and heat treatment showing stresses, cooling pattern, distortions and metallurgical phase distribution / microstructure, surface hardness and strength
  8. Simulation of Shop Floor Layouts, Equipment Installation Project and  with complete process flow
  9. Simulation of Work Flow: Tracking of schedules, Tracking of projected and instantaneous delivery and cost for a Work Order
  10. Simulation of Production shop Performance such as OEE, Inventory, Productivity and Efficiency.
  11. Simulation of Mudas – Loss Mapping
  12. Simulation of Logistics, Warehousing and Supply Chain
  13. Simulation with associated Cost of Materials, Conversion and Overheads
  14. Simulation of Market Conditions and Changing demands
  15. Simulation of Cash flow / funds
  16. Simulation of Business and Business Performance

Fidelity of Simulation is the extent of Predictive Forecast matching with Reality and that does depend upon the depth and spread of Simulation. There could be immense variability in algorithms of Simulation …. Ranging from simple excel-sheet based computed columns to FE based mathematical analysis spanning across various domains of Physics, Material Science and Engineering.