Digital twins in the management of product variants

With standard products disappearing from industrial production and customer-tailored product variants gaining ground, production must adapt to meet this new kind of demand. Digital twins help to find the best possible solution already in the virtual world, making the implementation of modernizations more efficient.

The growing number of customized product variants results in challenges for an increasing number of industrial players, who need to modernize both their engineering and production so that the new methods are able to satisfy the new demand.

Achieving these modernizations is where the digital twin is in its element. Technology offers solutions for renewing engineering and production in the best way possible. In this article, we will set aside engineering and focus on the production process itself.

Production has to be redesigned

Imagine a situation that has become increasingly common in the manufacturing industry: Production plant X is preparing to manufacture a new generation of products that differ from their predecessors in that, this time, the product can be varied substantially. Each individual customer can thus largely decide on the technical content and other features of the product.

Until now, X’s production has consisted of a single production line, which has produced just one product from beginning to end without any type of variation.

The new product generation means that X must modernize because its production needs to adapt. The existing production methods will be redesigned so that they can meet the updated needs.

The solution could be, for example, for a single production line to branch off at one or more points into several parallel lines, each of which does different things to the product until the lines finally converge. There can be a multitude of solutions from which the best solution has to be selected.

Digital twin makes modernization more effective

It is worth using modern technology, and in particular digital twins, to design modernized production. Using virtual modelling, it is possible to create various scenarios and solutions and to test how different options function in a digital environment.

Digital tools and testing solutions in a virtual environment offer significant benefits compared to traditional methods. When different solutions have traditionally been tested on site in actual physical production, the testing has required production to stop, which always impacts the company’s cash flow.

The digital twin makes modernized engineering more efficient and cheaper, as testing carried out in the virtual world does not require bringing production to a grinding halt. When the best possible solution has been found using digital means, shutting down production to test it in the real physical world will probably not be a waste of time.

Etteplan has been involved in several projects where production has been adapted to meet the challenges presented by the increasing number of product variants. We utilize the tools offered by digital twins and help our customers develop and model solutions until we find the right one for further development from among the many options.

Etteplan Arttu Kalliovalkama

Arttu Kalliovalkama

Managing Director
+358 10 307 2876
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