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The Value of Digital and Virtual Twinning: Stay Sharp Episode 38

By July 1, 2024No Comments

In Episode 38 of Razorleaf’s Stay Sharp podcast, Digital Twins vs. Virtual Twins with Ramesh Haldorai, co-hosts Jen Ferello and Eric Doubell, Razorleaf’s CEO, are joined by Ramesh Haldorai, Vice President of Strategic Consulting for the 3DEXPERIENCE platform at Dassault Systèmes. Jen, Eric, and Ramesh take a deep dive into the differences between digital twins and virtual twins, including the four stages of a virtual twin and the best way for a business to get started with digital and virtual twins.

Virtual Twin Origin Story

Ramesh starts by explaining that as design and simulation technology evolved, Dassault created their new 3DEXPERIENCE platform to integrate all of the siloed applications being used across manufacturing disciplines. He says, “What this allowed our customers to do is to help them seamlessly go from design to simulation design to manufacturing design to service, all on a single platform. That brought about a big productivity boost.”

What coordinated, multi-disciplinary work requires, however, is up-front or baseline definitions of products, requirements, systems, and communications. “This is model-based systems engineering,” he says. “Defining the different systems, what are the interfaces between the systems, what they’re exchanging between the systems, and how these systems communicate up front. So that when each one of the different disciplines builds the different systems, they all fit together seamlessly.”

Ramesh says that this comprehensive product and system definition is a digital twin—or a product- or system-level model—which allows for simulation of how a product looks and fits together, but also how it works. It’s also the first stage of a virtual twin.

Beyond the Digital Twin

The second stage of the virtual twin is taking the virtual item you built and testing it virtually in real-world conditions. Eric points out that simulation is the key, because “if you can’t simulate it—since you don’t have anything physical yet—there’s no way to really create a complete virtual twin.” Ramesh agrees, “Simulating is an integral part of modeling.”

Another key to this second stage is testing not just “real world” conditions, but exact customer requirements based on a replica of their environment. Ramesh adds, “Then you anticipate all commissioning issues upfront and resolve most of the issues you’ll have when you actually visit the customer and you’re installing the equipment at the customer’s premises.”

The third stage of the virtual twin is “making a virtual twin of your factory, the manufacturing facility,” Ramesh says. If you lay out the equipment you’ll need, based on your process definition and simulation, then simulate the production using that process on the virtual assembly line you’ve built, you’ll be able to anticipate production issues. Simulating the entire virtual manufacturing process will help you troubleshoot and problem-solve your production-line issues before changing to your shop floor.

The fourth stage of the virtual twin occurs when the product is in use and you’re collecting data from it, which you feed back to improve your predictive models. About that idea of closed-loop feedback, Jen explains, “It allows you not just to determine if there are any problems anywhere along the line, but where those problems are and how to correct them.”

Virtual Twin Starting Points

When asked if customers are really doing all of this, Ramesh reports that there are many customers doing pieces of it, and some even all of it, but in a siloed manner. As Jen puts it, “Virtual twins do exist and have existed, they’re just not as connected as the optimal vision. Not currently.”

But as the trio discusses, even doing some of the virtual twin stages can be helpful, and they can be implemented incrementally. Some pieces obviously require a logical implementation order—such as simulating a product before simulating a product in a customer environment—but you can start in any part of the process.

The bottom line is to start where your organization has the most need and can realize the most value for the investment. “End of the day,” Ramesh says, “the virtual twin is going to help them solve a business problem and generate returns based on solving that business problem. I think it is upon us to help our customers understand how to get there depending on what problem they’re trying to solve.”

Learn More About Digital and Virtual Twins

The full podcast episode offers more details including the virtual twin origin story, how Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform can help organizations develop and use the virtual twin in a connected way, and a variety of examples for how a virtual twin can add business value to your organization.

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