Evaluating a Digital Twin concept for an Automatic up-to-date Factory Layout Setup

Updated: Sep 2

Andreas Lind, Dan Högberg, Anna Syberfeldt, Lars Hanson, Dan Lämkull (2022). Evaluating a Digital Twin concept for an Automatic up-to-date Factory Layout Setup.Advances in Transdisciplinary Engineering. Volume 21: SPS 2022, pp. 473-484.

Today, manufacturing factory layout setups are most often manually designed and kept up-to-date during their lifecycle with computer-aided design software’s, so that analyses, verification simulations, and decisions can continuously be done. This manual approach is a cumbersome iterative process to collect the necessary information, with a high risk of faulty inputs and updates. Often the virtual descriptions do not match the physical version of the factory setup. This research presents a digital twin solution where physical equipment is connected to a virtual representation of the same equipment and automatically updates the virtual environment with the spatial position of the physical equipment and a proposed way to evaluate it. The physical equipment either has inbuilt sensors or has been equipped with external wireless sensors to track the spatial position. The metadata are distributed via Node-RED (a tool to visualize Internet of Things) to the simulation software Industrial Path Solutions, where the virtual equipment is repositioned based on data from the physical equipment. The result shows that it is possible to send spatial position information from a physical equipment and update the corresponding virtual description of the equipment in its virtual environment. The accuracy of the updates has been evaluated with manual measurements. Hence, the virtual environment of the factory setup, i.e., the digital twin, updates automatically based on the data sent by the physical equipment. With an up-to-date virtual environment, more accurate simulations and optimizations of the factory setup can be achieved. Examples of such possibilities are to evaluate ergonomic conditions or to optimize robot paths for robot cells in realistic and up-to-date virtual environments. Also, one could imagine making virtual reality visits to hazardous or sensitive factory environments in a safe way or studying things that otherwise would be hard or impossible in the real world. Access publication.