The digital transformation of business processes is not only a trend for the future, but a topic that already determines the future viability and competitiveness of companies in all industries and of all sizes. A ground-breaking concept that opens up new possibilities for machine and plant builders in particular, is the so-called "digital twin": What this entails is creating virtual representations of real machines and components, which makes it possible to simulate and monitor planning, production and use in a realistic way. With cc|digital factory 365, Europe's leading Microsoft Dynamics partner COSMO CONSULT has developed an award-winning solution scenario that demonstrates the benefits of digital twinning, which includes an example of the predictive maintenance of machines and systems.
The basic idea on which the concept of the digital twin is based is not new: 3-D models, to which all essential material properties, dimensions and functions are assigned, have been part of the standard repertoire for machine and plant construction for many years. What is new is the extended scope of the concept, which has resulted from advanced networking in “Industry 4.0”, as the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies is known in Germany, from intelligent applications and from the ability to efficiently process large amounts of data. The virtual representation of real objects extends to the entire value chain: Whether raw material delivery, design and production or on-site use and service - all processes and the related objects can now be digitally represented and simulated on an integrated system platform, monitored and controlled.
COSMO CONSULT’s cc|digital factory 365 is such a platform. The solution, developed in a research cooperation effort with Magdeburg Fraunhofer IFF and together with renowned industry partners - including Microsoft, BOSCH, Dräger, euromicron and Autodesk - enables the comprehensive management of all business processes, including the representation of components and machines as digital twins. From the customer’s query to construction, project handling, object tracking and billing, all processes are brought together on a central platform. The entire infrastructure of the system is based on standard Microsoft solutions and Microsoft-certified COSMO CONSULT special solutions.
In the specific case of application of the cc|digital factory 365, the digital twin is used to track the location and status of individual machines and their components at all times during production, transport to the customer and on-site deployment. The digital counterparts of the objects are created already in the development and production phase and run through all connected project and application stages in the virtual system environment in parallel to the physical status. The objects themselves are equipped with sensors: As soon as these report deviations from a previously defined nominal state - and before a malfunction or a machine failure occurs - a service case is automatically generated. With the support of HoloLens, Microsoft’s mixed-reality technology, construction details are then projected onto the object in question to simplify maintenance.
"The digital transformation of business processes and networking of real objects in the “Industry 4.0” environment are topics that are of crucial importance for the manufacturing industry, not only for five years from now, but today", says Uwe Bergmann, CEO of the COSMO CONSULT Group. "It is therefore important to have solutions that exist not only on the drawing board and to be able to do more than just present ideas. Concrete solutions for specific requirements must be available now - and they must be built on the foundations of mature and proven technologies. Our Digital Factory platform, which makes it possible to use the concept of the digital twin, is based on proven Microsoft technologies and was developed in real application scenarios. As a result, manufacturing companies have the opportunity to improve their efficiency and competitiveness already today, while at the same time setting the course for the future."