6 Use Cases for the Digital Twin Along the Digital Thread
The manufacturing industry has a long-standing vision for an enterprise digital thread: connected people, processes, and data across all different departments throughout the enterprise. A digital thread provides a cohesive, connected chain that enables anyone to query across all systems for true data democratization. Through this connection, companies unlock benefits throughout sales, manufacturing, service, and product design workflows.
But this vision has proven easier said than done, as companies struggle to make data available to downstream teams and connect different sources across the enterprise. Vertex makes the vision a reality by enabling people to interact with a virtual representation and communicate on product data free of problems. Manufacturers no longer have to deal with one-way streets with speedbumps and roadblocks: but a seamless way to build, connect, and interact with digital thread applications all along the digital thread.
We recently wrapped up a 6-part webcast series where I joined different colleagues—including Matt Heying (VP of Product), Thomas Berg (Customer Success Manager), and Jim Zwica (Director of Manufacturing Solutions)—to show 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.
Connected Manufacturing: Improve Quality and Throughput
Whether you’re thinking about implementing an MBD (model-based definition) strategy, embedding 3D visualization onto the shop floor, or understanding throughput in the factory, a digital twin enables you to optimize your processes and add efficiencies. In this webcast, Matt had the opportunity to demo three different applications that deliver on the promise of visualization in manufacturing:
- Interactive Work Instructions: Within the factory, most operators need real-time, accurate product information to understand how to build products. Vertex connects the PLM system to pull out work order configurations while also connecting to MES or ERP systems to pull actual instructions. We deliver the information on any low-powered device such as thin clients, tablets, or even cell phones. The result is an interactive 3D visual connected to all systems of record that enable model-based definition, feedback loops, and connected data sources.
- Log, View, & Gain Insights from Defects: As an additional layer to work instructions, operators can report issues or opportunities for improvement. Vertex enables teams to submit defects into an ERP or other issue management system, which data science teams can then use to understand where issues originate.
- Understand & Track IoT Data: Vertex has the scalability to enable full factory visualization, allowing factory managers to understand throughput, bottlenecks, and machine health. Visualize time series data to understand station efficiency and enable predictive maintenance.
Connected Enterprise: Build, Connect, and Extend Your Digital Thread
Connection to live, enterprise data sources is at the core of the best digital twin strategies. By unlocking product data, companies have the building blocks needed to embed a digital twin strategy all along the digital thread. In this webcast, Matt and I showed three applications for a connected enterprise that allows manufacturers to query across all systems and enable data democratization:
- Big Data: Today’s data is commonly described as being “viscous,” meaning it is difficult to move and connect, which makes it difficult to contextualize for actionable insights. Most telematics provide sensor data in a spreadsheet. With a 3D digital twin in Vertex, companies can combine .CSV files with 3D visuals to better query on use cases such as data quality, defect reporting, historical trends, part re-use, and supplier lists.
- IoT: Nearly all manufacturers have multiple product lines across multiple facilities and sites. We showed how Vertex connects different sources of IoT data to help teams understand exactly what IoT data really means by 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 support customers, service parts, and predict maintenance needs.
- Collaboration: Vertex enables true bidirectional collaboration with all other teams and the different enterprise systems. In our final demo of this webinar, we showed how Vertex can select a part, component, or anything that is attached to the metadata (such as a part name) and submit it back into your information management system to improve data integrity.
Connected Field Service: Use Digital Twins to Improve Uptime
At the forefront of customer satisfaction, service teams play a vital role in contributing to the success of a manufacturing organization. Not only can service teams help cement brand loyalty, but they can provide feedback upstream so products can be better designed for serviceability and runtime. In this webcast, we discussed three different service applications that feed into the digital thread:
- Training: First, Matt and I showed how Vertex delivers rich, interactive training experiences to the field service team connected to technical publications. Not only do technicians quickly understand how a part would need to be repaired, but teams can build interactive work instructions that reference how to repair, replace, or clean part components during maintenance activities.
- Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul, and Aftermarket: Once a field technician can be properly trained on maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) activities, they also need to properly execute on aftermarkets. Static images slow down field technicians and create confusion. With Vertex, teams use low-powered devices to interact with 3D product data that is connected to the system of record. This helps ensure that technicians have the right data on the machine, order the correct parts, and quickly repair products.
- Connected IoT: As we discussed in the Connected Manufacturing webinar, understanding IoT data enables companies to gain insights on activities like predictive maintenance. In this demo, we spoke about this in detail, showing an example of a field of wind turbines to see certain values, such as temperature or vibration, in a visual manner to know when it’s time to repair or replace a product. In this example, we connected with AWS SiteWise, an IoT dashboard product, to easily understand performance at a particular point in time.
Connected Product Design: Improve Design Quality & Save Time
Product development teams are charged with understanding new requirements and working with the supply chain to develop new innovations for their products. Vertex helps engineers connect with downstream teams such as customers, supply chain, and partners to understand DFX, feasibility, and product requirements without needing to spend administrative time stripping designs and sharing lightweight versions. In this webcast, I showcased several demos of our Connect app:
- External Collaboration: When sharing information with customers or suppliers, engineers typically spend a lot of time sharing screenshots of engineering models without full context. Our customer, Terex Utilities, has significant success using the Vertex Connect app to centralize communication and reduce complexity during external design reviews between engineering and the customer base.
- Internal Collaboration: Similarly, milestone design reviews can be viewed in one setting so everyone can understand constraints, assembly, ergonomics, and potential part re-use. In this example, I showed how the Connect app can be used to plan and execute milestone design reviews, similar to how our customer Vermeer uses Vertex.
- Value Chain Collaboration: Finally, I showcased several examples of how to keep engineering connected with manufacturing and service teams to filter feedback on serviceability and buildability back to engineering teams. As a result, engineers can design better products connected with the source of truth.
Connected Customer Experience: Bring Customers Into the Product Lifecycle
Every sales team is looking to shorten the sales cycle, engage customers more, and ensure they’re providing the best value. Vertex helps manufacturing sales teams connect to customers and prospects while also engaging the supply chain and engineering teams to enable real-time input and feedback into customer requirements. I was joined by Customer Success Manager Thomas Berg in this webcast to demonstrate:
- Business to Customer Workflows: Traditional methods mean that sales teams have trouble walking customers through different options due to 2D documentation, slow feedback, and an inability to easily send feedback upstream. I demonstrated how easy it is to showcase different configurations to the customer base with market-ready geometry. Vertex can easily handle fully configured BOMs to streamline Engineer to Order (ETO) workflows.
- Business to Business Workflows: In use cases that require manufacturers to showcase many different options, Vertex provides an easy way to embed visuals into Configure Price Quote (CPQ) applications. Because Vertex ties to the source of truth, the visuals are mapped to the same design data used by engineering, so any changes to the data are reflected immediately and automatically to the CPQ application.
- Terex Utilities Case Study: Throughout the webcast, we referenced a success story with Terex Utilities. Terex uses our Connect app to centralize communication and reduce complexity during design reviews with their customer base. In fact, the sales team has indicated significant time savings and more engagement with customers by using Vertex Connect.
Connected Factory: Get Insights From Data to Improve OEE
Finally, every manufacturer wants their factory to perform better with overall equipment effectiveness running as high as it possibly can. But as we’ve discussed in length over the last several webcasts, the methods to understand factory performance are extremely lacking. Vertex enables companies to optimize flows, place equipment, and maximize effectiveness. Jim Zwica, Vertex’s Director of Manufacturing Solution, took the lead on demonstrating:
- Assembly Flow & Process Digital Twin: Get a holistic view of how efficient your processes are through the factory, where bottlenecks occur, and how equipment is utilized. Jim demonstrated how IoT data outputs are collated into a visual representation to show how the factory is performing.
- Factory Layout Planning: View your factory at full scale and package all your assets in a way to make decisions about how to best organize equipment. Vertex was built in a way to be scalable beyond anything seen before. Jim demonstrated how to bring together design intent factory layout so you have visual alignment connected with the native data sources, such as PLM, ERP, or MES systems.
- Point Cloud Data: Catch a sneak peek of how Vertex can show a visual rendering of point cloud data to understand where problems might arise.
I encourage you to check out any of these webcasts. If you’re interested in implementing a digital twin strategy for your organization, don’t hesitate to get in touch.