Digital twins help with failure management

India is preparing to mould into a global manufacturing hub, with 5G and digitisation fuelling the growth of the manufacturing industry.

 Digital technologies are revolutionising the manufacturing industry. Products can be scaled up and solutions used to drive operational efficiencies, improve safety and asset efficiencies. Smart and efficient are the new hallmarks of manufacturing.

Various technologies are driving the digitisation of the manufacturing value chain. This has facilitated integrated product development right from ideation and conceptualisation to the design and development of a product. This approach is critical to industries such as aerospace, defense, automotive and healthcare.

The Internet of Things (IoT) which includes both industrial and consumer IoT, has a transformative effect on digital manufacturing. “IoT unlocks solutions for gaining visibility into manufacturing at the shop floor level through dashboards as well as providing a control mechanism for processes in the shop floor. Factories become smart and paperless and operations can be monitored remotely. Precise predictability in running a factory and visibility to the operations are other highlights,” said Karthikeyan Neelakandan, associate vice president, Infosys Ltd.

An IoT platform can be used to monitor the data and test changes (if any) that are being made along the manufacturing chain. As factories become smart, digitisation will replace manual operations. “When there’s a problem, it takes a long time for the data to be passed on to the design department because the traditional approach encourages each department to work in silos and not together,” said Rohit Mallya, Indish Technologies FZE.

Silos need to be broken. In the absence of silos, when the product is being designed, the methods engineer can partake in the design outlay and help fine-tune the design, as well as determining its value and cost. The next step would involve the operations engineer, who can give a feedback on the product. Dashboards give a visual update on the entire process. Performance levels are laid out visually. The data updates can be processed for improving efficiencies.

Besides improving the design quotient, digitisation also helps streamline processes. It helps move the material within the shop floor and facilitates seamless connectivity between the machines and supply components. The potential of the digital medium can be harnessed through platform based technologies, analytics, sensors and gateways used to communicate between the backend operations and sensors. Programmable logic controllers enable the process. Cost reduction, agility, operational efficiency, improving the safety and driving utilisation are outcomes that India can hope to achieve by embracing digital manufacturing significantly.

Digital twinning is a driving force in the manufacturing operations. This helps in system replication, which in turn, helps in detecting and predicting the possible reasons for failure. That makes digital twinning a more cost-effective way of failure management.

“A digital twin is a virtual presentation of the logical and the functional model of the whole. And we are able to see how the model behaves in the virtual way, quite like the manner in which it would have behaved in the physical part,” explained Mallya.

If you are able to connect the two and take a feedback from the physical to the point of virtual discharge, decision-making becomes easier. Then, once the cause for the production loss is identified, there’s greater clarity to implement the same in the physical environment.

A definitive influence on manufacturing is 5G. Characterised by low latency and high bandwidth, 5G will provide the necessary fillip for manufacturing units. The fact that it supports devices in one location and provides interconnectivity between machines will make it a must-have in the manufacturing chain. Robots will undertake tasks in assembly units and security drones will monitor visitor entries into manufacturing firms. This will soon be a reality in the manufacturing industry, thanks to 5G, combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing networks.

It’s understandable that the countries which will leapfrog to 5G will be the leaders in the next decade. 5G will transform the manufacturing industry. Technologies like augmented reality will combine with 5G to enable the shop floor staff to work skillfully. Likewise, the concept of software-defined networks will become prevalent.

“With the anticipated adoption and adaptation of 5G networks for various industries, the software defined networks becomes very important. Software defined networks will drive efficient network configuration in order to improve the performance and monitoring,” explained Kartheikeyan.

Besides 5G, Industry 4.0 is making inroads into the manufacturing chain. Automation, both the virtual and physical kind, will enhance the floor operations of the manufacturing industry. Automation will help gauge the actual requirement of the product which will be executed by the production process. All this will happen autonomously without human intervention.

Bharat Fritz Werner Ltd has arrived at a device for the shop floor operations. “Iris, our in-house device is conceived, designed, developed and manufactured in India. Iris can communicate with any equipment on the shop floor. It comes with the cloud connectivity as well as on-premise connectivity, complete with data integrity and security,” added Jagannath V, business head, Bharat Fritz Werner Ltd. It takes into account the consumable setup, analysis, process tests, traceability on the shop floor and energy monitoring. In short, Iris is a single integrated solution with a secure cloud-based infrastructure.

Such digitised solutions, both customised as well as generic ones, make for smart(er) factories. These are the factories of the future. “How we adopt technology to differentiate us from others is crucial. And offer our value proposition, not just a geopolitical safety, but value proposition that is comparable to the best in the world,” cautioned Priyesh Chaudhary, partner, PwC.

A digitally skilled workforce is required to optimise the assets and technologies used to enable digitisation. IT is becoming more efficient and has eliminated a lot of non-manufacturing processes. “We need to manufacture better products at a low price. We hope to look at the new emerging technologies, which will help us become the chosen manufacturing destination of the world,” summed up Aman Choudhari, past chairman, CII Karnataka.

All this was discussed at the recent CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) Karnataka Digital Manufacturing Summit 2020 online event, held under the banner of ‘Building the Future & Accelerating the growth of Manufacturing Post COVID -19’.