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How the ‘Digital twin’ will transform the Manufacturing sector

19/06/17 Kieran Wilson Senior Contract Consultant - Manufacturing & Operations

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 and 4IR are all terms that are becoming more commonplace in the manufacturing sector. Now these terms are accepted, a new wave of technical turns of phrase have been born.

Among these is the concept of a ‘Digital twin’ which is a technical tool that has the potential to change the way manufacturers approach their whole production process.

Digital twins refer to computerised companions of physical assets that can be used for various purposes. Digital twins use data from sensors installed on physical objects to represent their near real-time status, working condition or position. This technology can empower a manufacturer to run simulations to help understand product usage, reliability, and efficiency.

While the concept of a digital twin has been around since 2002, it is only thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) that it has become cost-effective to implement. And, it is so imperative to businesses today, it was named one of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017.

Kieran Wilson, Redline’s Senior Consultant for the Contracts Manufacturing and Operations Division discusses the importance of the digital twin and how it will effect manufacturing jobs: “Digital twins are powerful masterminds to drive innovation and performance. Imagine it as your most talented product technicians with the most advanced monitoring, analytical, and predictive capabilities at their fingertips – 24 hours a day. By 2018, engineering and manufacturing companies who invest in digital twin technology will see a 30 percent improvement in cycle times of critical processes, predicts IDC - International Data Corporation the global provider of market intelligence.”

He continues “There will be billions of things represented by digital twins within the next five years. These proxies of the physical world will lead to new collaboration opportunities among the physical world product experts and data scientists whose jobs are to understand what data tells us about operations. This will completely change the job roles and skills of product engineers, product technicians, manufacturing engineer jobs and other production jobs.”

The Digital Twin has created a new wave of manufacturing jobs: “Digital twins are becoming a business imperative, covering the entire lifecycle of an asset or process and forming the foundation for connected products and services. Companies that fail to respond will be left behind.”

Kieran continues: “within three to five years, millions of things will be characterised by digital twins, a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system. Digital twins can be used to analyse and simulate real word conditions, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. Digital twins function as proxies for the combination of skilled individuals e.g. manufacturing technicians and engineering technicians and traditional monitoring devices and controls e.g. pressure gauges. Their proliferation will require culture change in the manufacturing industry, as those who understands the maintenance of real-world things collaborate with data scientists and IT Professionals. Digital twins of physical assets combined with digital representations of manufacturing facilities and environments as well as people, businesses and processes will enable an increasingly detailed digital representation of the real world for simulation, analysis and control.”

To find out more about manufacturing and operations jobs, please contact Kieran Wilson on 01582 878835 or email KWilson@RedlineGroup.com