What Makes Digital Twins So Compelling?

What Makes Digital Twins So Compelling?

Digital Twins represent physical parts in a digital world. They record and make accessible information about a part’s current real-world configuration, including repairs and modifications; along with all the data that went into creating it through connections to its Digital Thread of engineering information.

The forthcoming update to the Digital Twin core application in Aras Innovator will include a feature known as Life Control. With this logic, configuration information can include the part's life tracking data. This feature allows the user to define, assign, and maintain life parameters for serial and lot/batch controlled parts for your chosen industry. For a 30-minute demonstration of Life Control, visit the recent Aras Innovator demo series webinar: Planes, Trains, Ships, and Rockets—Extending Your Digital Twin.

But what makes Digital Twins so compelling?


1: A Digital Twin is Possible for Any Asset, in Any Industry

To recap, the Digital Twin Core application in Aras Innovator offers a serialized part Bill of Materials to help users organize and manage multiple digital twins in the field—even those with very large bills of material. These extensive and detailed records fulfill the latter half of the PLM (product lifecycle management) promise, starting at the point in time when a theoretical product that has been conceived, designed, and developed in PLM becomes a physical product, and extending throughout its manufacture, commission, operation, service, and decommission.

And this bill of materials is not static. In Aras Innovator, it is equipped to record every change to a component part or assembly: including the new serial number, the time and date of the change, and other information vital to maintaining a real-world record of an actual physical part operating in the field. This enables management of the oft-forgotten part of the product lifecycle, overlooked by the PLM software industry for many years, and Aras makes it possible.


2: A Digital Twin is Connected to Its Digital Thread

For any asset in the field with a Digital Twin managed in Aras Innovator, you can navigate its Digital Thread, starting from information about that physical asset and extending back through to the engineering data that was created as part of its development: including its requirements, system models, simulation results, supply chain information, manufacturing processes, technical documentation, service information, customer information, and more.

To see how, check it out here—The Aras Approach to the Digital Twin: What Makes it Different? All of this is possible in just the first release of our Digital Twin Core application. So what’s next for the Digital Twin?


3: A Digital Twin Knows How It Should Perform

Our forthcoming release of Digital Twin Core will offer Life Control for any parts that require life tracking with a set of new features: Life Parameters, Life Policies, and Part Policies. To better understand what this means, think back to the advice you always heard from your Dad about when to change the oil in your car: “3 months or 3,000 miles.” Let’s see how that analogy applies:

Life Parameters: These are operational variables that define how the life of a product is measured: mileage (3,000 miles, in our analogy) or time (3 months). In Aras Innovator, Life Parameters can indicate cycles, distance, revolutions, repetitions (for example, landings, in the case of aircraft), hours, minutes—you get the idea. The possibilities are exhaustive, allowing Aras Innovator to cover nearly every industry’s Digital Twin needs. Aras Innovator has even built in the capability to specify maximum Life operating limits that can be tailored to specific serialized parts. You can even record the shelf expiry life of some consumables like adhesives which are no longer usable beyond a specified manufacturer's date. 

Life Policies: In our analogy, more than one variable can and often does help a company track the life of a product. A power-generating windmill turbine airfoil blade may operate for 1000s of hours a year but another measure of activity maybe revolutions. So, a grouping of Life Parameters is a Life Policy. Life Policies can be and very often are applied to more than one part (if you also top off your windshield washer fluid with every oil change, for example). This helps companies standardize the way similar parts are monitored and tracked in the field.

Part Policies: When an engineering part is assigned a Life Policy, it’s known as a Part Policy. In our analogy, this is a policy applied to the vehicle model you were cruising around in at the time your Dad made that exhortation about changing your oil with some degree of frequency. Now, mind you, this has nothing to do with the unique vehicle you owned and whether or not you followed his advice—it merely refers to the recommendation for all vehicles of that type. What you actually did with his advice is covered next …


4: A Digital Twin Knows How It Did Perform

Everything we’ve just discussed is not the Digital Twin yet: it’s just the set-up for an actual, individual instantiation of the Twin. Once an engineering Part in Aras Innovator has a Physical Part equivalent in the field, that Physical Part can inherit the Life Policy assigned to the Part Policy. That means the part knows what life parameters need to be tracked to measure the life and now has a digital container for information about how it is actually performing: for example, during a maintenance inspection and after 10,000 operating hours since installation, the part is still in serviceable condition. 

In other words: did you change the oil at 3,000 miles, or not? Recording actual life events happens on a twin-by-twin basis—that is, it is an individual value against an individual part in the field, of which there can be many. You may not have changed the oil as often as your Dad did – even if you drove the same type of car with the same Part Policy assigned by the manufacturer. The real-world information that tracks how your oil-changing habits varied from your Dad’s would be recorded on the physical part level in Aras Innovator for each of your vehicles.For oil changes, you would create a Life Parameter MCBNOC, or, Miles Consumed Before Next Oil Change. 


5: A Digital Twin Can Enhance Your Customers’ Experience with Your Product

This is where Digital Twins get really compelling. Understanding how one part performed when it needed to be repaired, replaced, maintained, or simply checked is interesting; but rolling up metrics from a whole fleet full of parts across all of your Digital Twins in the field that experienced wear and tear suddenly equips your teams with a trove of information for use in the analysis of your product’s real-world performance.

These insights can be used to improve quality and reliability; to enable product as a service business strategies; to extend or contract warranty periods; to introduce new products or new upgrades that add value to customers; and to advance your customers’ experience with your products.

And it all begins with defining Life Controls—expected values for performance—that can be managed, assigned to engineering parts, and propagated to each Digital Twin in the field with forthcoming features in Aras Innovator. To see these features in action, check out the full demonstration here: Planes, Trains, Ships, and Rockets—Extending Your Digital Twin.