Three Pillars of Digital Twin Solutions
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Digital twin solutions are generally associated with leveraging data generated by sensors on machinery to manage the health of the equipment in manufacturing environments. This capability of leveraging the data captured from the floor or equipment to replicate asset conditions and processes ,drives manufacturing digital twin offerings like SAP IoT, leveraged on the SAP BTP platform. Hyperscalers like Microsoft and AWS also have their offerings, branded as Azure Digital Twins and AWS IoT TwinMaker. With the introduction of their supply chain platforms, these solutions can now be integrated in supply chain platforms. Developing robust digital twin solutions that actually deliver value are less about technology and more about designing optimal process around it, and making sure people roles are defined prudently. In this article, we summarize the aspects of the three key pillars, people, processes and technology for building optimal digital twin capability.
The People, Processes and Technology View
At the core, every organization, and every capability that it has developed, are supported by the three pillars of people, processes and technology. In the current era, where technology evolves at such a rapid pace that it is becoming commoditized, process and people pillars are becoming more and more strategic in nature. Pick any capability that an organization has been successfully able to develop and you will realize that these three pillars support that capability. And this holds for digital twin solutions as well.
Figure 1 summarizes how the three components of people, processes and technology need to come together to help develop a robust solution. Please note that the items summarized under each pillar in the illustration are indicative and not an exhaustive list.
Figure 1: The three pillars of an optimal digital twin solution design
Below are the examples of the key elements of the three pillars as it applies to a digital twin solution.
- Defining the alert criteria parameters
- Who accesses and validates the alerts?
- What is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for each alert type?
- Defining the process to generate automated or manual work orders
- Defining the flow from reliability to maintenance
- Defining interface between digital twin and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) for asset maintenance
- Designing the complete monitoring to work order completion cycle
Defining the role of reliability engineers for tasks like:
- Continuous monitoring of robustness of twin platform
- Monitoring alerts queue
- Validating alerts
- Deciding maintenance timings
- Generating work orders
- Interface with maintenance on work orders
Defining role of maintenance and field service like:
- Creating work order based on reliability team inputs and defining maintenance priority levels
- Scheduling and optimizing scheduling
- Field service management and optimization
- Field service and maintenance crew management and optimization
- Performing maintenance
- Closing the work order
- Designing the solution in terms of:
- Key tasks (Like end-to-end twin or focused only on predictive and prescriptive maintenance)
- Algorithm(s) selection and development
- User interface
- Interface with associated systems