Towards a Digital Twin for the Smart Factory - thesis project

In recent years, the concept of digital twins has grown in the manufacturing industry with the help of Industry 4.0 and is expected to be very useful in the future. More and more companies are offering solutions for digital twins in different areas for different industries, but creating complex systems like these is anything but easy. An enormous amount of resources is required. Everything from people, capital and time to smart components, sensors, servers and processing power. These must be compatible at the same time to be able to communicate with each other.

The digital twin of the flexible Vera factory.

The purpose of digital twins varies greatly between different industries and there are several articles that agree that there are many different uses for digital twins and how they can be beneficial to companies. Despite this, there is no clear overview of the concept, the maturity of the technology or how digital twins are to be implemented and created. This master's thesis has evaluated the concept and technology behind digital twins for the smart, flexible factory. It was investigated what different definitions for digital twins look like, how far the development of digital twins has come and what is required of small and medium-sized companies in the production industry to implement and create digital twins. A small-scale virtual model was created to better understand the creation process and provide the Smarta Fabriker and Production for Future projects with a simulation model of the Vera factory.

What was discovered was that the concept of digital twins is still at an early stage with many divided opinions between industry and research on how digital twins should be defined. Therefore, a comprehensive definition of digital twins in the production industry was proposed together with an estimate of how far technology has come today, as well as a work process for implementing and creating digital twins in the production industry.

The following definition is proposed for digital twins in the manufacturing industry.

A digital twin is constructed by a physical and a virtual counterpart constantly optimized by each other where the interaction and communication of data between the counterparts is processed in real-time to simulate, optimize, and predict the behavior of the physical production system.

– Tobias Norman Hult, Jimmy Ek (2020)

The technology maturity level for digital twins is estimated to be around level 4-5 on a nine-point scale and is therefore considered to be at the beginning of the S-curve, which means that digital twins are at the start of their technology development.

The level of technological maturity for digital twins according to the thesis project.

Finally, guidelines are proposed for how a digital twin can be implemented and created in the form of a six-step process suitable for small and medium-sized companies in the production industry.

Proposal for the implementation of digital twins in a six-step process.


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This article is categorised as Advanced  |  Published 2020-05-25  |  Authored by Greta Braun