If you are part of the automotive industry, you will already be familiar with digital twins. It is very likely that you are familiar with its concept and even how it is applied in your company. But… Do you really know its full potential? To make sure you don’t miss a single detail of the value they provide, we leave you in this article the main uses of this technology in the sector.
Today’s automotive industry is driven by a situation where customers demand advanced features for their comfort, safety and enjoyment in the vehicle. This forces manufacturers to speed up the development of their models in order not to lose competitive advantage.
Fortunately, technology is once again coming to the rescue to provide solutions to simulate the stages of vehicle development, from design to production, logistics, maintenance and many more. These solutions are based on the digital twin concept.
What is a digital twin
A digital twin is an exact virtual version of an element, which can be a part, a product, a factory, a particular process, a building or even a city. A digital twin is an exact virtual version of an element, which can be a part, a product, a factory, a particular process, a building or even a city.
With digital cufflinks, we can know the structural and operational reality of the corresponding physical element, as well as simulate it to check the effect of certain conditions or modifications.
The potential of digital twins is such that Gartner claims that by 2031 their market will reach $183 billion in revenues.
The automotive industry’s digital twin
For the world of vehicle manufacturing, the digital twin is valid for individual parts as well as for complete vehicles, production lines and factories. It also involves all stages of the process: design, construction, storage, etc.
A clear example of its usefulness is that a leading brand such as BMW is planning to digitise all its plants by means of 3D laser scanning. Moreover, BMW’s own factory manager, Frank Bachmann, claims that the time needed to plan factory operations has been reduced by at least 25% thanks to the digital twin.
What are the advantages of the digital twin for vehicle production?
If you’re still wondering whether it’s worth betting on the digital twin for automotive Industry 4.0, here’s a set of benefits that will put your mind at rest:
- It integrates data from various sources to facilitate analysis and sharing with all stakeholders.
- It makes this data consistent, accurate and accessible.
- It avoids manufacturing errors and all associated losses due to shrinkage, claims or returns.
- It facilitates the use of space in the plant.
- It speeds up decision-making when purchasing equipment or redeploying elements in the factory.
- Reduces unplanned downtime due to machinery breakdowns.
- It enables communication between the professionals involved.
8 applications of the digital twin in the automotive industry
Optimises vehicle design
A digital twin is used to generate a prototype and perform virtual tests on it, simulating different conditions to check its results. This reduces production costs and speeds up design times.
Elements such as IoT sensors and 3D scanning make it possible to shape a digital twin that is able to monitor production performance.
This makes it easier to set improvement strategies for more efficient manufacturing. In addition, more flexible manufacturing is made possible by designing alternative methods depending on circumstances, such as the availability of equipment and resources.
Manage the supply chain
It can simulate the impact that certain scenarios will have on manufacturing outcomes. These may include a trade crisis, a natural disaster, a shortage of raw materials. In this way, the digital twin facilitates decision-making to avoid or mitigate its effects.
Also noteworthy is the monitoring of key performance indicators, such as fleet management and route efficiency.
Knowing the reality of each factory and each line is an invaluable source of insight into production quality levels and maintaining standards at the set levels.
The performance and response of components to different environments and conditions can be known, including locating defective parts that need to be removed or modified from the vehicle because, for example, they do not comply with specified dimensions.
A digital twin can identify data patterns that are signals that production is about to break down in the near future. In this way, managers will be able to plan the necessary interventions to ensure that the machinery is always in perfect condition and with minimal impact on normal production rates.
The data from the digital twins is easily sharable between the parties and actors involved in vehicle manufacturing for better decision making. Both within the plant itself, as well as with other professionals located in different centres that may be in any geographical location.
Digital twins, especially thanks to the 3D scanner, facilitate the acquisition of new equipment, complete lines, as well as the layout of spaces to optimise production.
This is because with industrial topography, the dimensions of both the available space and the equipment to be acquired or relocated are known in detail. This makes it much easier to know whether there is enough space to make the planned changes, to measure their impact and to make the best decisions about them.
With digital twins, new workers can be trained remotely. In this way, they can get to know the reality of the plant where they are going to work from thousands of kilometres away, just as if they were there. It is also a very useful option for those who are going to be transferred to other factories.
These 8 applications provide an insight into how the digital twin is enriching the automotive industry. A key element for acquiring a notable competitive advantage in an ecosystem where it is difficult to stand out.
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