Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2022 - 26

Manufacturing
Once the digital model becomes physical, IoT-based sensors can be used to gather real-time production and quality statistics and feed them back to the
virtual twin. (Image: Dassault Systèmes)
everyone in the supply chain, starting with the product designer
and ending with the consumer.
The virtual twin can provide a solution for customization demands
in two ways - the product itself, and how the product is
manufactured. The virtual twin of the product allows designers
to rapidly create new iterations
and
experiment
with
different
configurations, all without building
expensive prototypes. A virtual
twin of a manufacturing shop floor
can then allow the team to retool
and reorder the assembly line to
bring these new product iterations
to life, all in a virtual setting to reduce
downtime to a minimum.
Since today's manufacturing environment
is defined by increased
product complexity and demands
for customization, the widespread
adoption of virtual twins couldn't
have come at a better time.
Anything but Black
How does the virtual twin application
for products and process look when applied to an industry?
Henry Ford reportedly told customers they could have any
color Model T they wanted, as long as it was black. He said this
because every additional color meant modifying the assembly
process, reducing efficiency and raising costs. Automakers have
long since adapted to market demand and we now have all the
colors of the rainbow, not to mention any number of engines,
drivetrains, interior trim levels, and much more from which to
choose. Choice is a good thing, but each variant further complicates
an already complex environment. Designs must be
26
evaluated, production lines modified, supply chains made a bit
lengthier.
" A virtual twin might be
nothing more than a digital
copy of a machined or
3D-printed part, but it can
also be used to replicate
a tractor or machine tool,
a factory floor, or even an
entire city. "
According to a recent Newsweek story, automakers are busy
adding fuel to this fire. Fiat Chrysler (FCA) customers can now
ask for snorkels, lift kits, and other customizations on their Jeep
Wrangler. Ford Bronco buyers can
" make it their own " with all manner
of aftermarket accessories,
while Volkswagen GTI enthusiasts
are free to trick out their ride with
engine, suspension, and exhaust
upgrades. All this at a time when
supply chains are stressed to the
breaking point and labor shortages
are rampant. How will automakers
do it?
And yet, there's much more to
automaking (or any manufacturing
endeavor, for that matter)
than parts and processes. Industries
of all kinds face increased
regulatory pressure from government
agencies, and products must
remain safe and secure even as
their variations skyrocket. As with the factory floors that deliver
them, these products must also be sustainable, made from
eco-friendly materials and using socially responsible manufacturing
and logistics processes.
Then there's accelerated innovation. The push to get products
to market more quickly means design cycles are much
shorter than they once were. And thanks to the Internet of
Things (IoT) - Industry 4.0's connected counterpart - consumers
have come to expect that goods and services of all
kinds are online, all the time, a trend that will grow with each
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Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2022

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Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2022 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2022 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - July 2022 - Cov1
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