A case-study in the introduction of a digital-twin in a large-scale manufacturing facility

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O'Sullivan, Jamie
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University College Cork
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The exponential increase in data produced in recent times has had a profound impact in all areas of society. In the field of industrial engineering, the knowledge produced by this newly obtained data is driving business forward. Automating the process of capturing data from industrial machines, analyzing it and using the knowledge gained to make better decisions for the machines is the crux of the digital twin. Digital twins uncover a wealth of knowledge about the physical asset they duplicate. Sensor technology, Internet of Things platforms, information and communication technology and smart analytics allow the digital twin to transform a physical asset into a connected smart item that is now part of a cyber physical system and that is far more valuable than when it existed in isolation. The digital twin can be adopted by the maintenance engineering industry to aid in the prediction of issues before they occur thus creating value for the business. This thesis discusses the introduction of a maintenance digital twin to a large-scale manufacturing facility. Issues that hamper such work are discovered and categorized to highlight the difficulty of the practical installation of this concept. The work here highlights the difficulties when working on digital systems in manufacturing facilities and how this isn’t discussed in journal articles and the disconnect between academia and industry on this topic. To aid in the installation, a digital twin framework is created that simplifies the digital twin development process into steps that can be completed independently. Work on implementing this framework is commenced and early successes highlight the benefit of sensoring critical assets. The payback of the initial practical work is immediate, and it presents a promising outlook for the iterative development of a maintenance digital twin using the framework. The thesis’ work highlights the benefit in reducing project scale and complexity and hence risk for digital systems in manufacturing facilities by following the framework developed. The later part of the thesis discusses machine learning and how this AI topic can be integrated into the digital twin to allow the digital asset to fulfill its potential.
Smart manufacturing , Digital twin , Industry 4.0 , Predictive maintenance
O'Sullivan, J. 2020. A case-study in the introduction of a digital-twin in a large-scale manufacturing facility. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.