Danish Technological Institute develops true Digital Twin in Experior

Danish Technological Institute develops true Digital Twin in Experior

The leading research and technology company Danish Technological Institute have succeeded in creating the first ever true Digital Twin of a slaughter line with real time communication between the physical and virtual worlds.

The term Digital Twin have long been used in the automation industry to describe different concepts that include 3D models of automation systems. However, not all these concepts are equally true to the actual definition of a Digital Twin. In order to have a true Digital Twin three main prerequisites should be in place: a physical running system; a virtual model of the system; and bi-directional communication between the two*.

In collaboration with Xcelgo, the Danish Technological Institute have succeeded in developing such a Digital Twin. This is one of the first and one of the biggest true Digital Twins in automation.

A Digital Twin of a slaughter line

The Danish Technological Institute functions as a service provider in automation IT for the Danish meat industry, and they were tasked to create a Digital Twin of a slaughter line. As the processes of slaughter lines are increasingly automated, the need to monitor the production arises, Senior Consultant at the Danish Technological Institute Eli Vibeke Olsen explains:

Video animation of the Digital Twin

“If a machine in the line suddenly breaks down or begins to handle the objects in a wrong why, the repercussions are much bigger. With a live Digital Twin, the operators can monitor the production and intervene much faster than they can today where it is largely based on intuition and past experience,” Eli Vibeke Olsen says.

The Digital Twin developed by the Danish Technological Institute is an Experior 3D model of a slaughter line with virtual objects – carcasses in this case. The model runs in parallel with the actual slaughter line using harvested live data from the machines and the objects, monitoring the line and sounding the alarm if anomalies occur:

“In the user interface, operators are able to check mark the parts of line they wish to monitor, and these will then change color if problems are detected, enabling the operators to react in time. This lowers the risk of expensive production stops and facilitates faster and better communication between employees,” Eli Vibeke Olsen explains.

Video animation of the Digital Twin

From physical to virtual in real time

The biggest hurdle in creating a true Digital Twin is the real time integration of live data into the virtual world. This is challenging to achieve, and you risk hampering the production of the running system when developing the Digital Twin with live production data. The developers at the Danish Technological Institute worked around this problem by simulating a live system with real production data from Danish Crown’s slaughter lines. With this simulation, they were able to develop the Digital Twin.

”This is a big breakthrough in achieving a true Digital Twin, as we are now able to harvest live data from the real world and integrate it into the digital word in real time,” Eli Vibeke Olsen says. She also explains that Experior and Xcelgo were vital to the process:

”Our developers were very, very pleased with working in Experior 7.0, as it was intuitive and easy to work with. Also, the collaboration and dialogue with Xcelgo worked well,” she says.

Next step is real life application

The Danish Technological Institute have already been in dialogue with slaughterhouses that are very keen on the idea, and the next step is applying the Digital Twin to a real-life production:

“We currently call it a 99 percent true Digital Twin, as we still only use it in parallel with the simulation, but it is ready to be used onsite and become a 100 percent true Digital Twin,” Eli Vibeke Olsen says.

* Grieves, M. Digital Twin: Manufacturing Excellence through Virtual Factory Replication; A White Paper; Michael Grieves, LLC: Melbourne, FL, USA, 2014.