Read any industry publication today and the Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic.Talk about how products will be connected to each other and interact with users on different levels is everywhere. But is all of this really possible? Will we see this type of connectivity and interaction any time soon? Gartner, the technology research company, says that there will be 6.4 billion connected devices this year, and many of these will be in the industrial sector. What advantage does this connectivity bring — digital twins, predictive maintenance and predictive analytics.
Systems are the backbone of the IIoT
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) relies heavily on complex systems with many parts that must interact in a variety of conditions. You can think of a complex system almost like a living organism. A complex system has a body, a brain and a nervous system.
The physical components that make up the body sustain such physical phenomena as stress, vibration, fluid/structure interactions, electromagnetic interference, noise, flutter, fatigue, heating, icing, combustion, deformations, aging, radiation, etc.
The brains of a complex system are the software components that control the system, such as controls, user interfaces, databases, data management, maintenance and health monitoring.
The nervous system provides information to the system’s brain includes electronic components such as sensors, actuators, integrated circuits, chip/package/electronic system, and network interfaces. Complex systems are incomplete without all three of these components. Eventually these components are all powered, sensed, and controlled together as an integrated system and must be designed as a system. Systems simulation allows you to ensure that your IIoT-enabled assets, the software that controls them and the networks and sensor that enable them to transmit data are working as designed and expected.
IIoT is the logical evolution of closed, complex systems to smart, interconnected systems. Product engineering was originally dominated by hardware and electrical power considerations. As products became smarter, the product design also had to incorporate electronics, embedded software, and sensors. As products are becoming smart and connected, you have to consider wireless communications, networking, data storage, and analytics.
The Digital Twin
A complex system produces massive amounts of data. Connect a group of systems together through the internet, and the data increases exponentially. All of the data coming off of these devices is descriptive. That is, the data tells you what happened and when it happened. Data analytics extends the data to be predictive and tell you when something will happen — a failure, for instance. But data analytics doesn’t tell you how to improve the product to avoid the failure. However, a digital twin — a 3-D digital model of a physical system — can do this!
The digital twin is a system; therefore it has a body, composed of the 3-D physics models and the systems models, and a nervous system, composed of the data that is driving all of the analytics. The detailed 3-D simulation of the physical product is performed with ANSYS 3-D physics solvers, the system-level simulation is done with ANSYS Simplorer and the native connectivity to the data is done with leading IIoT platforms such as GE Predix and PTC ThingWorx.
I’m excited to report that this was demonstrated today at PTC LiveWorx, where ANSYS helped to power a digital twin of an industrial pump demonstrated by Flowserve.
— DEVELOP3D Magazine (@develop3d) June 7, 2016
So how exactly can companies benefit from digital twins? Let’s use a pump and its valves and seals as an example. Imagine that you have thousands of pumps, valves and seals or any other type of physical industrial asset in service. You can use digital twins to sync with your end user’s control system to capture all of the running data on a pump. This allows you to remotely model what is actually happening inside the pumps, valve and seals at your customer’s site, and simulate the effects of operational modifications that are made on the pump while it is actually running at the customer site to help them to understand how the changes will improve efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, understand failures, etc. This is exciting stuff!
The digital twin of any product allows for simulation as a service. IIoT infrastructure helps companies acquire massive data from product and asset operations. The ANSYS simulation platform helps our customers design the IIoT-connected assets themselves and analyze the operational data created by these smart devices, versus design data to enable troubleshooting and predictive maintenance. With digital twins, you can analyze and optimize the performance of products in real-world operating conditions and make confident predictions about future performance to improve product operation and productivity and reduce the cost and risk of unplanned downtime.
You can learn more about how we are powering IIoT-enabled assets and providing the tools to create and run digital twins by viewing Create Digital Twins and Manage Assets with MBSE.
This webinar will discuss how simulation-driven product development can assist you in design and analysis of your equipment and the systems that control them so you can meet your IIoT engineering and business objectives. Topics will include the creation of a digital twin through system-level modeling and simulation, integration with 3-D physics analysis and model-based systems and software engineering (MBSE).