Complex Systems Informatics and Modeling Quarterly (Dec 2021)
Virtual Prototyping: Evaluating the Digital Twin Based Virtual Factory for New Product Introduction
Shortening lifecycles and increasing complexity make product and production lifecycle processes more challenging than ever for manufacturing enterprises. Virtual Prototyping (VP) technologies promise a viable solution to handle such challenges in reducing time and physical builds as well as increasing quality. In previous studies, the Digital Twin (DT) based Virtual Factory (VF) concept showed significant potential to handle co-evolution by integrating 3D factory and product models with immersive and interactive 3D Virtual Reality (VR) simulation technology as well as real-time bidirectional data synchronisation between virtual and physical production systems. In this article, we present an extension to the paper “Demonstrating and Evaluating the Digital Twin Based Virtual Factory for Virtual Prototyping” presented at CARV2021. The study presents an evaluation by industry experts of the DT based VF concept for VP in the context of New Product Introduction (NPI) processes. The concept is demonstrated in two cases: wind turbine blade manufacturing and nacelle assembly operations at Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The study shows that the VF provides an immersive virtual environment, which allows the users to reduce the time needed for prototyping. The industry experts propose several business cases for the introduced solution and find that the phases that would have the most gain are the later ones (production) where the product design is more mature.