Written by Alison Sickelka

4 Use Cases For The Digital Twin Outside of Engineering

Most manufacturing organizations are looking for ways to implement a digital twin strategy. Yet, many become overwhelmed when thinking about use cases around the full value chain. It’s common for engineering groups to have access to 3D digital twins, but companies seem to have a hard time extending that access beyond the product as-designed. What about using a 3D digital twin to power your sales configurator tool? Or aligning IoT data to a 3D representation of the machine in production? How could a digital twin improve your service organization? 

A digital twin is all about aligning data and bringing it to life. Visualizing data in full context makes it rich, interactive, and ultimately actionable. Our mission at Vertex is to make it easy for any team along the value chain to access, embed, and experience a 3D, interactive view of a digital twin. We take any size model—from a single component to an entire factory floor—and deliver the 3D representation to any user right to their device.

We recently wrapped up a 4-week webcast series where we showed you how valuable and easy it is to target different areas of your organization and get them access to digital twins. I encourage you to check out any of these webcasts on-demand to see Vertex in action.

Accelerating Smart Factories with 3D Visualization
Whether you’re thinking about aligning different sensor data, embedding 3D visualization into work instructions, or understanding the flow of your factory, a digital twin enables you to optimize your processes and add efficiencies into the factory floor. In this webcast, I had the opportunity to demo three different applications that deliver on the promise of smart factories.

  1. First, Vertex enables you to visualize and walk through the factory floor, allowing companies to optimize the plant floor layout, flow, logistics. Furthermore, a 3D walk through enables companies to collaborate with suppliers while planning out the layout. 
  2. Companies can also use the power of Vertex to add 3D visuals into work instructions on the shop floor. Because Vertex does all the work of rendering the data and simply streams images to the end user’s device, you can embed fully interactive 3D instructions on lightweight machines such as tablets or phones. And because this data is tied into your PLM workflows, you don’t end up managing orphaned assets. 
  3. Finally, Vertex aligns sensor and IoT data on the real-time factory floor. In this portion of the demo, I showed how interacting with historical and real-time data reflected in the visuals can help you understand more precisely where and how to improve the factory floor.

Watch Webcast for Smart Factory

Connected IoT & Analytics
Consider how you currently ingest IoT and sensor data, and how that information is translated into representations of your machines. Typically, companies consume that information through numbers, charts, or other 2D and static representations. Vertex gives you the ability to visualize those data sources in 3D, giving them life and context. This enables you to diagnose what’s happening with a machine, or possibly mash it up with other data (such as data from ERP). In this webcast, VP of Product Matt Heying showed viewers:

  1. Integrations with the AWS Sitewise platform. Vertex recently announced their collaboration with AWS and has been named a digital twin solution in their IoT solution repository. Within Sitewise, companies can add 3D digital twins to their IoT data reporting.
  2. Mapping values of sensor IoT data to the 3D digital twin. Users can set up conditional triggers to understand how machines or fleets perform and alert you to specific instances so you can better understand issues, failures, and performance.

Watch Webcast for Connected IoT

Changing The Way We Service Products
Field service teams today have an extremely cumbersome and challenging time repairing, resolving, and re-ordering parts. Teams often use static 2D drawings to identify components, page through drawings and pictures to understand the context, take photos before taking apart a machine, or have to guess altogether. Customer Success Manager and prior Caterpillar service technician Thomas Berg demonstrated how easy and intuitive Vertex makes the experience for field service groups to:

  1. Improve parts identification. Vertex visuals plug into your systems to align the visuals of a component to a parts list. Technicians can easily click on and see the visual highlights between the component and the part name, making parts ordering extremely fast and easy.
  2. Enable interactive, 3D work instructions on your phone or tablet. Not only do technicians have the instructions in context of the 3D digital twin, but they can easily understand the work to be done, even if a machine has been in use for 10,000 hours.
  3. Perform online technician training and support with high-quality 3D geometry. By understanding what 3D geometry looks like, technicians have more confidence and knowledge in the field even without training on physical prototypes.

Watch Webcast for Field Service

Changing the Way We Connect with Customers
Finally, a digital twin strategy for your sales teams can help build customer loyalty, generate new business, and shorten the sales cycle. Today’s typical process requires sales personnel and sales engineers to provide 2D drawings, PDFs, spreadsheets, or even catalogs to share configuration options, which can quickly become outdated. And in many cases, sharing a 3D design comes with massive security risks. Product Marketing Manager and former procurement project manager John Heller demonstrated:

  • Full model scalability and interaction when collaborating on design iterations, proposal pre-sales options, and other activities with your customer base.
  • Vertex visuals within a CPQ application to flip through different configuration options and build out a custom configuration for any given machine. With a cohesive digital twin strategy, the visuals shown mapped to the same design data used by engineering, so any changes to the data reflect immediately and automatically to the CPQ application.
  • The success of our customer, Terex Utilities, in using the Vertex Connect app to centralize communication and reduce complexity during design reviews between Terex and their customer base.

Watch Webcast for Sales Teams

I encourage you to check out any of these webcasts. If you’re interested in implementing a digital twin strategy for your organization, please contact Vertex.

About Alison Sickelka

Alison Sickelka has worked with product teams for over a decade, in both business and product roles. Currently, Alison oversees product management at Vertex Software. Alison and her team work across the organization and with customers to ensure Vertex discovers and delivers valuable solutions to market that customers love.

Alison has been at the cross-section of business and technology throughout her career, and enjoys spending time understanding customer needs and then working with engineering and stakeholders to develop new solutions to solve those needs. Prior to joining Vertex, Alison served as senior product manager at SpotX where she worked with leadership to shape the product roadmap, identified new market opportunities, and drove projects from inception to launch.

Alison holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University and a master's degree in media management from The New School.