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Story 031 – 2017 – Sustainability Processes

Virtual view into the future

"Digital Twin" simulates reality before realization

With a simulation software, "digital twins" of production plants can be created before their installation. This makes it possible to include a large number of factors in the planning and to identify and avoid possible weak points in subsequent real operation.

The installation of new machines or the expansion of production halls involves considerable investments. It is therefore all the more important that the systems run as efficiently and smoothly in practice as the planners have imagined it in theory. Having to make changes, after everything is “cast in steel and concrete”, would be enormously time-consuming – sometimes even impossible.

The corporate function “Engineering & Logistics” (EL.EES) therefore uses a digital simulation model that considers and plays through all conceivable framework conditions before implementation and is therefore called “Digital Twin”. The production department involved provides all relevant data for this purpose: assumptions about the future material mix and material data as well as various boundary conditions. If these are not known, they are derived from similar existing plants or from supplier data. Questions about the storage strategy, required cages, transport priorities and times, plant utilization and waiting times are also presented experimentally and evaluated in various variants. Worst-case scenarios can also be simulated which one would like to avoid under all circumstances in later real operation.

EL.EES created the first digital twin in 3D in 2017 for the pipe production in Pine Hall (USA), for the installation of an automatic crane. The findings were incorporated into the layout concept of the hall, and the control concept for the crane developed by the simulation was made available to the manufacturer.

This not only made it possible to implement a design in advance ideally suited to subsequent operation, thus avoiding unnecessary delays and unpleasant surprises after commissioning. Rather, the 3D model also served as a valid basis for discussions in order to proactively debate all necessary protective measures in terms of occupational safety.

The Corporate Function Engineering & Logistics offers concept development with “Digital Twin” as an internal service for the entire Wieland Group worldwide.