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Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins transforming industrial automation

Digital twins in Industrial Automation

The concept of Digital Twin was introduced almost 20 years ago but it has been developed since then and specifically developed in the Industrial Automation in the latest years. It provides a virtual replica of a physical system or process where real-time and closed-loop monitoring can be deployed with real-data but without affecting the real system or process.

It is possible, for example, to create a digital twin of a PLC, which can be used to create its code from scratch or to improve its current program using real-time data coming from production, but without interfering with the real production. When the factory is already running, a digital twin environment allows you to introduce new operators to the system without any risk of shutdown.

Digital twins in fact minimize risks and accelerate the implementation of a control system.

Reality of digital twins in Industrial Automation

Regarding digital transformation, manufacturing companies are usually categorized as innovators, early adopters, late majority, and laggards. According to Gartner, 74% of organizations would be considered among the last two categories not having developed yet any digital twin.

On the opposite, the early adopters are already running integrations between twins. They are not looking anymore to create a digital twin of an isolated machine. They look for an integration between twins which will allow them to create a virtual replica of a whole system or even of a whole plant.

Migrating the whole control system in a few hours

Initially it was only possible to create digital twins of single elements, as a PLC. This meant that only the control logic could be tested. Nowadays, there are solutions that allow to create a digital twin of all the field signals and this opens the door to countless opportunities.

In the past, the developments done in a PLC, also if they were done in a digital twin environment, had to go through signal tests in the real environment of production. Now it is possible to create a virtual replica of the control system with all the field signals. This allows you to develop a project in a virtual environment from the beginning to almost its end.

When a correct methodology is applied, the commissioning is reduced to a few hours. For example, by using digital twins, AG Solution was able to perform the migration of the Control System of a factory within less than 8 hours shutdown of the production.

The need of a Digitalization Strategy

In any case, Digital Twins is not “one more thing” that companies should develop as a business case or as a Proof of Concept. To achieve success, Digital Twins should be part of a global digitalization strategy based in Data which should allow companies to measure the impact of each step forward.

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