How the digital twin will accelerate the fourth industrial revolution

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Mike Phillips

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Director at McLaren Applied Technologies

The speed of change in an increasingly connected world poses significant challenges to businesses and large organisations.

As they search for any competitive advantage, the digital twin – a conceptualised version of a physical product – is becoming increasingly important in exploiting market opportunities quicker and more efficiently.

Companies under pressure to create products faster, more efficiently, with minimal environmental impact can do so by removing the reliance on the development of physical objects.

It’s true that the digital twin concept has been whispered in boardrooms for well over a decade now, but to date, it has only been exploited in the field of asset maintenance.

With significant advancements in machine learning, simulation capabilities and better data processing power, organisations can better understand their products, how their manufacturing process can be improved and most importantly, how their products will interact with customers.

McLaren were pioneers in the Internet of Things (IoT). We were doing it before we even knew the phrase.

Formula 1 created the first wave of connected cars and decades of extracting big data from sensors from them has led McLaren to create very accurate simulations of the car, its operating environment and, therefore its likely performance.

Fifteen years ago, we went one step further and built an immersive simulator that puts the driver at the heart of the virtual car. This drastically reduced the time it took to develop the product and predict its performance before it was even built.

That same technology is now used in the automotive industry. Ask an accountant at a major automotive manufacturer and they will tell you about the financial strain research and development puts on their balance sheets. Capital which could be invested to grow the business, is lost in building prototypes.

“McLaren were pioneers in the Internet of Things (IoT). We were doing it before we even knew the phrase.”

Instead, businesses can create a digital twin of its product, or in this example, a car.

The digital twin can answer questions such as which hybrid battery you should fit into your vehicle, the trade-off between comfort and handling or how stability control feels to the driver. It also means that anyone – developers, supply chain and even customers – anywhere in the world who has the same simulator can ‘drive’ and experience this new product, in real time, as it develops.

In the wider commercial world, it’s possible to combine high-performance analytics expertise with advanced sensor, simulation and software technology to rapidly generate prototypes using thousands of variations to deliver the right product for the right market.

The combination of intelligence from physical sensors and the digital twin will enable businesses to ‘prototype’ a product very quickly and ultimately brings it to market more quickly.

Take a continuous manufacturing process in the food and beverage or petrochemical industry as an example. It’s difficult to understand the relationship between the sensitivities of the various control parameters and the quality of the final product. With an interactive simulation of a new product or even a new process, you can.

“It’s possible to combine high-performance analytics expertise with advanced sensor, simulation and software technology to rapidly generate prototypes.”

Our partnership with Deloitte will exploit the benefits of the digital twin – allowing our clients to derive clear understanding of what’s going on during the product development process and, using advanced analytics, the likely impact of decisions.

Keep up to date with the latest information on the new partnership by visiting the McLaren Deloitte website.

One of the first products we will develop together ensures quality compliance of a product at each stage of manufacturing – crucial in the pharmaceutical industry for example. This technology will be built on advanced simulations and algorithms of each process step – ultimately the very building blocks of the digital twin.

Together, McLaren and Deloitte can now truly connect organisations with its customers.

Director at McLaren Applied Technologies

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