Digitalization Digital Twins Accelerate Development and Commissioning

| Author / Editor: Christian Daniel / Alexander Stark

These five scenarios show how a virtual component library can further reduce the testing effort in mechanical and plant engineering.

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Experience has shown that the time required for real commissioning can be reduced by around 80 to 90 %, if the commissioning of individual assemlbies and the entire plant is simulated with digital twins in advance.
Experience has shown that the time required for real commissioning can be reduced by around 80 to 90 %, if the commissioning of individual assemlbies and the entire plant is simulated with digital twins in advance.
(Source: ISG)
  • The virtual components, assemblies and systems mirror their real models 1:1 - from the parameters to the interfaces to the control behavior.
  • This requires two things: a sophisticated hardware-in-the-loop real-time simulation system as well as the components and assemblies of the respective system in digital form.
  • There is a lot speaking in favor of using a uniform platform for digital twins in mechanical and plant engineering.


Many machine and plant manufacturers do not have their own simulation systems, but instead rely on powerful real-time applications from service providers that optimally combine simulation and real control technology. Cloud solutions are becoming more and more popular because they enable access from any location and at any time. In addition, the companies can focus on their core competencies instead of on simulation software and have no maintenance and servicing costs with regard to the simulation system. Under these conditions, it is only logical to design a platform in the next step. The simulation system, the tools forcreating digital twins and a continuously growing library of virtual components are integrated into this system. This results in a win-win situation for everyone involved:

  • As the primary users of the simulation platform, the machine and plant constructors profit from a significantly increased number of application possibilities.
  • The component suppliers improve their services for their customers, and as co-users of the simulation system they improve their quality assurance.
  • The provider of the simulation platform offers its customers significant added value compared to a single simulation system.

One Platform for Everyone

The following five examples demonstrate the various ways in which an integration platform with a growing virtual component library supports component and plant manufacturers to become faster, more cost-effective and more innovative.

1. Use of Existing Systems
Virtual machines and systems have a modular design. The smallest unit is the component. Once stored in the library, it can be used again and again - by any company working with the simulation platform. The effort required to digitize the component only occurs once. It is to be expected that within the user community each company will occasionally make its own contribution and occasionally benefit from the preparatory work of the others.

2. Drawing on the Full Potential to Realize Small and Large Innovations
Development work is time consuming and expensive; it ties up resources. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, are more likely to focus on further optimizing proven technology rather than on breaking completely new technological ground. However, if the research and development department can experiment safely and with relatively little effort with components that have not been used in the company to date, this will result in many innovative new developments.

3. Only Use the Best Possible Alternative
If it is necessary to replace a component or a component group in a plant with the product of another manufacturer, for example because the previous supplier is no longer available, the machine manufacturer can now virtually run through all the variants available in the database and select the best solution with relatively little effort.

4. Standardization Reduces Costs
Initially, the number of virtual components available in the library will increase the more manufacturers use the simulation platform. It can, however, be assumed that in the medium term, machine and plant manufacturers will more or less unconsciously set in motion a trend towards the standardization of similar components: Preferably, only components available in the library are used. This benefits both sides - the component manufacturers and the plant manufacturers. After all, standardized components are generally technologically optimized and less expensive to produce.

5. Automation
The digital component library represents a decisive basis for the fully automated execution of test simulations in the future. The operator configures the test sequence in advance by means of checklists. Then the system automatically pulls the corresponding data records from the library and carries out the calculation processes. The simulation runs automatically, and nobody has to start the follow-up test manually anymore.

This article was first published by MM MaschinenMarkt.

Original by Reinhold Schäfer / Translation by Alexander Stark