Some examples of digital twins

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Among the major strengths of the digital twin we find Virtual Commissioning, the “virtual commissioning”, ie the simulation of the operation of a machine or plant that tests all the elements designed and software development before putting it into real production.

The simulation can be: “software-in-the-loop” or “hardware-in-the-loop”. In both cases, the digital twin communicates with another control software, the PLC (Logic Programming Controller) which is the basic element of the control system of industrial machines and processes.

Among the advantages of Virtual Commissioning: the identification of any bottlenecks in the process, the reduction of costs, the analysis of the efficiency and safety of the plant, the support on both the sales side (being able to show how the plant really works ) and on the customer side (in case of assistance, thanks to the data archive there is greater ease of verification).

For some years, General Electric has associated a digital twin to each turbine sold, which receives consumption data from the physical one and allows the company to provide monitoring and assistance, as well as to continue testing the product even after-sales and propose any updates. for a fee. Tesla cars also send data to the operations center in real time that allows them to verify their functionality and use.

A compressor manufacturer, Kaeser, has used digital twins to go from selling a product to selling a service: it monitors its equipment 24 hours a day as well as the air consumption levels on which it charges, cutting material costs. raw by 30%.Digital twins can potentially be applied to any industrial product / plant. As already seen, they can be used to refine the performance of Formula 1 cars or to expand the range of (after) sales services.

This is still the case of the Brazilian tractor manufacturer Stara, which thanks to the Iot sensors installed on the equipment and the performance monitoring, provides farmers in real time with a view of the best conditions to plant crops and improve yield, with an optimization in use of seeds and fertilizers.

The Fameccanica Group from Abruzzo, a world player in the industry of machines for the production of diapers and sanitary napkins, uses the digital twin as a “virtual room” not only for monitoring performance but also for training maintenance personnel.

Maintenance technicians who, at the time of operation, will have a pocket support equipped with an app and a camera which, remotely, by framing the part of the machine to be controlled, will make them interact with the digital twin which will provide tutorials, data history and specific instructions.

ENI also uses the digital twin in a training key: employees wear special glasses and a sensorized glove to move in augmented reality within the digital twin of an existing plant and be able to simulate supervision and safety interventions.

Also in the energy sector, the EDF group, the main player in France also present in Italy, announced last March that it intends to use digital twin of nuclear power plant turbos, to optimize plant performance, allow predictive maintenance and reduce costs of repair.

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