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PLM’s Digital Twins Offer Virtual View of Manufacturing

Pat Waurzyniak
By Patrick Waurzyniak Contributing Editor, SME Media

With the latest product lifecycle management (PLM) tools, manufacturers take aim at speeding developments using the Digital Thread, an integrated set of CAD/CAM/CAE and cPDM (collaborative Product Data Management) solutions that weave together new Digital Twins of manufacturing processes. As machines on the factory floor are more connected than ever in the age of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the engineering applications in PLM are becoming more tightly intertwined with the data management side of the coin, enabling faster, easier communications among large global manufacturing organizations.

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The LandRover BAR Race yacht “Rita” shown here being christened and launched today at the teams base in Bermuda. Photo by Lloyd Images

The industry’s PLM systems are growing at a healthy rate, according to the latest analysis by market researcher CIMdata Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), which valued PLM overall at nearly $39 billion in 2015. “The PLM market grew to $38.7 billion overall in 2015, 2.8% growth over 2014,” noted Stan Przybylinski, CIMdata’s vice president, Research. “When looked at in constant currencies, that growth rate would be 8.2% over 2014.”

Most of the PLM market leaders had strong growth in constant currencies, and all continued to make strategic acquisitions to expand their portfolios and, in some cases, to enter new markets, Przybylinski said. “Looking toward 2020, CIMdata forecasts the PLM market to grow at a compound annual growth rate [CAGR] of 6.3% to $52.3 billion,” Przybylinski said.

Companies make PLM investments in many types of solutions including mechanical CAD, simulation and analysis, visualization and collaboration, building design, and others, Przybylinski noted, and this diversity is reflected in the fact that no single type of provider dominates the industry. In 2015, a larger number of providers generated substantial revenues that represent PLM-related investments, with 16 suppliers generating PLM revenue in excess of $500 million from both the tools and the cPDm segments, Przybylinski said. “Three solution providers, Dassault Systèmes, PTC, and Siemens PLM Software, are major providers of both tools and cPDm technology,” he noted, “while others, such as Autodesk and Mentor Graphics, are primarily tool providers that focus on specific segments within the overall market.”

Speeding Product Designs

Working with automotive designers on Formula 1 racing teams helped the developers at Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX) learn how to best deploy PLM systems used by the racers, noted Jim Rusk, Siemens PLM senior vice president and chief technical officer. “We’re able to learn from them. They’re scrambling for a week to provide the best components possible to their teams,” he said. “It really is a very dynamic environment—and their competition is doing the same thing.”

Speeding up product iterations enabled Siemens to see how to best help racing teams in Formula 1 and also in aircraft racing with the Red Bull team. Siemens recently announced its software has been used for the past three years helping Land Rover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing) to design, evaluate, verify and produce Britain’s America’s Cup Class (ACC) catamaran on-time and on-budget.

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Land Rover BAR’s America’s Cup race boat Rita, which was code-named R1, by the numbers.

Over 85,000 hours of design and build resulted in a 15-m boat that includes 1200 m of electronic and electrical cabling connecting 190 sensors and four video cameras. Working with Siemens, the team successfully managed its ambitious schedule using an integrated software environment for PLM tying multiple disciplines together seamlessly. Siemens and Land Rover BAR christened the “Rita” catamaran in February in a ceremony on the island of Bermuda, aiming to bring the America’s Cup back to where it all began in 1851.

“Siemens’ software technology has enabled us to simulate, analyze and test design solutions throughout the design and build process,” said Andy Claughton, chief technology officer of Land Rover BAR. “Using this software has saved time and will allow us to continue to make improvements up to the competition, where we hope to bring the Cup home to Britain for the first time in race history.”

The racing team of Land Rover BAR chose Siemens solutions to adopt an integrated virtual environment for digital modeling and simulation. Land Rover BAR uses Siemens NX for product design, Teamcenter data management software, the Fibersim portfolio of software for composites engineering and Siemens’ Simcenter software portfolio, including Femap and Star CCM+ software for finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis.

“They’re scrambling for a week to provide the best components possible to their teams. It really is a very dynamic environment—and their competition is doing the same thing.”

Creating the fastest, most-efficient design environment is key to racing teams—either on land, air or sea. Rusk noted that NASCAR teams operate similarly to the Formula 1 models, requiring quick designs and highly accurate components, often created with exotic materials including advanced composites made with additive manufacturing processes.

“We see this in the US as well, where there are a number of NASCAR teams doing similar work. They go through the same thing, prepping for the next race,” Rusk said. “We’re also in very large deployments in large global manufacturing companies.”

Driving these developments is a need for advanced systems engineering, finding the fastest, most efficient ways to develop innovative product designs. “Companies are saying ‘We want to get earlier and earlier,’ in their designs,” Rusk said, “and we offer detailed design simulation and management of those processes.

“The bigger definition of PLM is how can we help companies earlier on in their design cycle. They want to know how the product will perform against the design. We do that with a lot of upfront knowledge, giving them good flexible ways to collaborate.” Important elements to help designers include the new architecture diagram capabilities added in Siemens Teamcenter and additional simulation capabilities, such as Siemens’ acquisition of LMS a few years ago that added the Image Lab, giving users needed testing against real-world scenarios, he noted. Siemens also more recently acquired CD-adapco, which includes the CCM+ software used for advanced 3D thermal simulations. “It’s really a product that scales very well,” Rusk said, noting that CCM+ is used in subsonic and sonic flow for aerospace, he said, and for air-fuel mixing for internal combustion engines.

Calling in the Digital Twins

Virtually all PLM developers emphasize this digital twin concept in product development software strategies, along with many other elements including the continued expansion of collaborative product design and development functionalities.

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Graphical Bill Of Material Navigation with modern, integrated, browser-based 3DPlay (no plugins required) in the latest Dassault Systèmes PLM.

Key trends that are supported by the Dassault Systèmes’ (Paris) 3DExperience platform and associated brand applications include customer-driven development, virtual experience simulation/testing/optimization, model-based enterprise, cloud deployment with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), data-driven applications, digital thread, digital twin and virtual twin, big data, IoT, plugin-less browser-based applications, dashboards and widgets, and business intelligence with PLM analytics, noted Eric Green, Dassault Systèmes vice president, Delmia User Experience and Advocacy.

“Innovation efficiency is often impeded by multiple hand-offs across disciplines and functions, due to discontinuity in processes and systems, resulting in elongating timelines and rework,” Green said. “The older generation electronic PLM systems connected the silos together, whereas in a digital platform, the silos are eliminated.” The V6 digital architecture, introduced by Dassault in 2008, defined a common data model across CATIA for design, Simulia for simulation, Delmia for manufacturing and Enovia for governance applications, Green said, allowing users to connect online to a single digital definition and collaborate in real time.

Data proliferation has made every business dependent on data, and every business needs to transform its methodologies to become both data-driven and analytics-driven in order to make sure that every business decision will maximize global performance, Green said. The challenge of today’s business is both how to handle the data chaos and proliferation of new sources of information, and how to make sure every business decision is based on this data chaos, he said.

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Change Management integrated directly into design tools from Dassault Systèmes.

“That’s why self-service analytics is here to enforce data governance at every level of the company, by empowering every business user to analyze the different sources of data and perform their own analysis without any kind of IT support,” Green said. “Business users are mainly relying on IT teams to provide new analytics views which make the responsiveness to new information slow and ineffective. In addition, they leverage Excel in order to modify the data and build reports that will provide only one part of the reality; there is no single source of truth.”

By delivering self-service analytics, users are able to accelerate the cycle time to create new views, he said, where every business user can drag-and-drop boxes to build new views that are based or directly linked to the information system.

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New Manufacturing Process Planning tools from Aras give users PLM solutions designed to integrate with existing ERP, MES and legacy PDM environments, offering new process capabilities on top of existing enterprise systems.

The emergence of new technologies for manufacturing are leveraging PLM technical advances, especially in the areas of new materials and additive manufacturing processes, Green stated. “The economic gains from additive manufacturing are dramatic and the changes to design are even more significant,” Green said. “Additive manufacturing allows entirely new types of parts and products to be created. Designers will have blank drawing boards, so to speak, that allow them to ask, ‘In an ideal world, what should this part look like?’ Designers are finding that organic shapes found in nature are sometimes better and more streamlined than the clunky industrial-style shapes that have prevailed in the past.

“This type of ‘generative, functional design’ fuels the Experience Economy and will revolutionize manufacturing, requiring manufacturers to redesign production and process planning and the way material engineering is conducted,” Green said. “Having the capabilities to enable this new way of thinking, from material sciences, through 3D design, simulation, and operating with additive manufacturing, help companies transform their business.”

Integrating PLM in the Process

With the emergence of the IIoT, companies with complex products are looking for better ways to integrate their manufacturing operations, noted Doug Macdonald, director of product marketing, Aras Corp. (Andover, MA), developer of the Aras Innovator PLM platform. But with today’s disconnected systems, authoring and reconciling MBOMs, process plans and work instructions, and ensuring synchronization with evolving product designs can be time-consuming and error-prone.

Manufacturers can gain a competitive advantage when Manufacturing Process Planning (MPP) is integrated and able to seamlessly track manufacturing data and processes, he noted. “The key is to leverage a PLM platform that supports the graphical and concurrent process plan, MBOM [Manufacturing Bill of Materials] and work instructions authoring plus real-time automatic EBOM/MBOM [Electronic BOM/MBOM] reconciliation.”

Some new capabilities from Aras address these challenges, with new functionality that integrates PLM and MPP. These new features include version-controlled process plans detailing operations, steps, parts consumed, resources utilized, skills, documents referenced; concurrent authoring of visually rich electronic work instructions; version-controlled MBOM derived from EBOM using drag-and-drop editing; concurrent process plan and MBOM creation; automatic EBOM/MBOM reconciliation and plant-specific MBOMs and process plans.

Aras cites research by the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII; Chicago) showing 81% of enterprises acknowledge a digital transformation in manufacturing is a key element to their future competitiveness, but only 14% say they’re adequately equipped today with the necessary technologies and expertise. The Aras MPP is built on a single platform that is flexible, scalable and upgradable, and provides connected capabilities for EBOM, configuration and change management, requirements, quality and other areas. Aras MPP is also designed to integrate with existing ERP, MES and legacy PDM environments to provide these new process capabilities on top of existing enterprise systems. By layering the Aras platform over existing systems, large enterprises can avoid the risk and disruption of a “rip-and-replace” approach and drive digital transformation more quickly.

“We believe that the processes that span product development and manufacturing engineering are a necessary foundation that must be addressed up front for Industry 4.0 or IoT to work,” said Aras CEO Peter Schroer. “Companies with factories all over the world need a better way to drive transformation faster, which is why you can overlay existing legacy with our platform and get new capabilities immediately that directly support your strategy.”

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