Industry 4.0 and the power of the digital twin


Manufacturers are being forced to challenge their own assumptions when it comes to their traditional design processes and practices. They can no longer afford the “build it and tweak it” approach that has characterized many design projects, and instead, must take a more systems-design approach that has proven to be an essential part of the design process within the aerospace and automotive industries for many years.

The world of industrial automation is undergoing a major transformation.

Advanced computation and communications technologies have reached such a level of maturity that machine manufacturers are making dramatic changes in the way they design their products.

A major shift from dedicated mechanisms to mechatronic, or cyber-physical, systems means that manufacturers and their customers are no longer constrained by the mechanical design of a machine. Instead, machines in which the mechanism’s motions are defined by servo actuators and control software provide significant opportunities for flexible manufacturing, adaptive throughput, energy management and machine lifetime value. The resulting cost savings and competitive advantages are essential in industry today, as more and more manufacturers adopt these technologies into their next-generation products.

Indeed, the evolution and convergence of many new technologies – mechatronic systems, controllers, on-board computation, Big Data, machine learning and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – are driving thought-leaders to talk about The Next Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

Through formal requirements management, and the development of high-fidelity dynamic models used in simulations of the system, manufacturers can validate the design against the requirements in the early stages of the process. The resulting high-fidelity model from this process is typically referred to as the Digital Twin.

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