I had the opportunity to join two industry experts, Stephen Birtsas and Leo Moran of Kalypso, in an interactive panel discussion about the manufacturing digital twin. Our goal was to examine the business value of manufacturing digital twins in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry and review some tangible examples of successful implementations.
There’s a lot of confusion about digital twins in the market, including competing definitions and requirements. The panel cut through the hype and shared real-world experience about using digital twins in manufacturing to solve practical problems and unlock new value. I hope you find this summary informative.
What is a Digital Twin Anyway?
We’ve all heard the term, maybe more than we wanted to. There’s a lot of marketing hype, and the term “digital twin” itself has become a bit of a buzzword. Part of that is because people are trying to attach themselves to a valuable concept, even if they are just rebadging an existing capability to do so. Fortunately, we had the experts on the webinar to set the record straight on what it is and its real potential. I’ll share some of their most insightful commentary here, but please watch the recorded panel discussion to get the complete picture, including how to get started.
Stephen described the manufacturing digital twin as a visual representation, in silico, that simulates a production process. That process, he shares, could be anything from an entire facility to a line to a particular operation or cell. The representation allows engineers to evaluate production at a high level all the way down to the control logic that will control a manufacturing line and its equipment. He explains that doing this in a digital environment allows manufacturers to simulate production flow down to how PLC code impacts the physical world in a virtual simulation.
Leo Moran further explained that digital twins are a discipline and capability they use to improve their clients’ operations on their factory floors, warehouses, and distribution centers. They do this by determining the data needed to build a model and simulating equipment and operations to create analyses of an area to improve in the factory.
What’s the Value of a Digital Twin in CPG?
With the understanding of what a digital twin is, we turned to the obvious question of why they are valuable. We all agreed that the objective isn’t to develop a model or digital twin, it’s to solve a real business problem like optimizing plant efficiency. It’s a strategic business capability, and our research shows that about two-thirds of manufacturers see the digital twin not just as a technology but as an important or critical capability to achieve their business strategy.
Leo described the versatility and scope of the digital twin. He shared that Kalypso helps their clients across the lifecycle of a factory. It can start as they first design a factory to validate the design and ensure that it will meet requirements. Following that, it can go into a phase where they have to install and commission a great deal of complex equipment and then ultimately into operations to help optimize and manage production. He explained that there’s a tremendous amount of time and cost savings available from simulation technology with the digital twin in all of these phases.
Stephen shared a bit more detail, describing how clients look to solve real-world problems by applying a digital twin in one of those three areas:
- In the design phase, to predict how a design would work, for example, doing a throughput or feasibility analysis, and adjust the design to deliver on requirements and create a very high level of confidence that the operation is going to work effectively
- In the commissioning phase, by virtually testing controls and systems integration to find bugs and optimize designs early to commission and get up to your target OEE rates much faster
- In the operations phase, for example, for troubleshooting and testing a hypothesis on a potential solution to quickly implement improvements
Learning from Real Case Studies
Stephen and Leo shared a number of projects they’ve completed with their clients. I’ll provide a summary of the benefits here, but I encourage you to watch the webinar to learn more about how they achieve these significant benefits from the manufacturing digital twin.
- A medical device company simulated factories to understand real production flow, identify where bottlenecks occur, rightsize their warehouses, and improve supply chain planning, allowing them to meet a huge increase in demand as they release new products
- A solar panel manufacturer used both simulation and emulation to identify and eliminate over 157 design flaws in their material handling process design, leading to a significant improvement in the overall capacity of the factory
- A major CPG company built a digital twin for both design and emulation of all of their control systems, leading to incredible savings in commissioning time for new lines
- A global retailer simulated and virtually commissioned half a dozen automated storage and retrieval systems, delivering 30% savings in commissioning time and a massive reduction in downtime
- A tire manufacturer built a more analytical model of tire splicing that enabled them to reduce downtime, resulting in an annual production increase of about half a million tires per year
- A beverage manufacturer developed a digital twin to simulate and replicate line stoppages and was able to test potential solutions ten times faster, solving the problem which resulted in a 52% downtime reduction and 14% improvement in OEE
The conversation confirmed that the manufacturing digital twin can drive a lot of business value. The case studies show that digital twins are more than hype, they’re a path to improve how manufacturers design, commission, and operate their plants, lines, equipment, and processes. Thank you to Stephen, Leo, and host Hadley Bauer for including me in the discussion.
To learn more about how Kalypso helps manufacturers gain tangible value from the digital twin, you can watch the webinar replay (no registration required) and find additional information about digital twins for consumer and retail companies on the Kalypso site.
For related content, read the State of PLM in CPG find out what top performers are doing with their PLM systems.