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Aalto University developing digital twins in manufacturing industry

DigiTwin Demo Day, photo by Anna-Mari Tolonen, Aalto University

Aalto University together with Konecranes, Siemens, Ideal PLM, Remion and RD Velho are developing digital twin concept with the aim of boosting Finnish manufacturing industry. The focus of the project is in the connecting of an overhead crane and its digital twin with product configuration, product design, and product life cycle. The DigiTwin research project is funded by Business Finland. 

On 18 January, 2019 Aalto University hosted DigiTwin Demo Day to showcase the research results and the collaboration it offers for companies. The Demo Day gathered together 170 persons from industry and academia. 

At his opening speech Juha Takkula,CEO of Ideal PLM, pointed out how during the last 20 years half of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared for not being able to take advantage of digitalisation. This happened for example in the music and photographic industries. 

“Digitalisation is disrupting also the manufacturing industry making it important for companies to work together and collaborate with universities for access to the latest research. Digitalisation and digital twin approach bring efficiency and transparency to engineering design and product life-cycle management. This means better control of products over the whole life-cycle.”, commented professor Kari Tammi

“Aalto University places high in well-known ranking lists for science, technology and business. They study and develop multiple technologies that are relevant for Konecranes. As a company, we want to be close to the key research centers. This enables us a fast access to the latest information, and in return Konecranes can provide Aalto real industrial use cases.”, describes Petri Asikainen, Director, Core Technology Development at Konecranes. 

Konecranes announced that they together with Aalto University will gradually turn the Ilmatar crane development environment to an open platform for the Aalto Industrial Internet Campus community. The Ilmatar crane was donated to Aalto University in 2016 and has been used as the main development platform of the DigiTwin project. 

Remion joined the DigiTwin project along with Konecranes to bring in the required IoT expertise. The company has vast IoT experience with crane data collection, processing, analysis and visualization. “We wish to act as a forerunner in digital twin based IoT, so we believe that this project will provide us an excellent opportunity to strengthen our skills and grow our collaboration network regarding digital twins. We also see this project providing a new window to scale up the digital twin based business.”, said Miika Valtonen, Senior Solution Architect from Remion. 

Digital twin of Ilmatar crane: use case on rope sheave bearing 

At the Demo Day doctoral candidate Juuso Autiosalo from Aalto University presented the digital twin demo created in the project. The demo showed how engineers can use the digital twin to analyze a simple crane component, rope sheave bearing. The crane is fitted with numerous data-collecting sensors and systems from where the data is securely transferred through Siemens’s IoT platform MindSphere to a PLM tool called Teamcenter. Engineers at Konecranes use this PLM tool on a daily basis, and now the demo implementation of Teamcenter visualizes IoT data by showing the product structure, usage data and a 3D model in one view. This information will help engineers in designing new cranes, but also in defining best-fit cranes for different purposes. 

 “For instance, at Konecranes, we can utilize the analyzed component information to optimize dimensioning and selection of components or plan digital twin based maintenance.”, said Valtteri Peltoranta, Senior Reliability Engineer, Konecranes.

Students at Aalto University demonstrated a remotely controlled robotic arm that was developed for Konecranes during a mechatronics project course. The robotic arm is equipped with cameras and can be remotely operated. This eases the workload of the maintenance personnel when instead of travelling to the location of the crane they will first be able to inspect visually the condition of the crane.  

Other demos included for example Remion’s digital twin of a Framery office booth, Siemens’s digital twin of a production line, Abloy’s Traka key management and digital twin of a rotor system from Aalto University. 

Current research questions in the DigiTwin project include

  • how to leverage machine learning in the presented crane use case,
  • how to predict the remaining lifetime of a component from its digital twin and 
  • how could maintenance personnel use augmented reality to access information of machines.

In addition, new IoT sensors are being brought to the system and the generic digital twin concept is under further development. 

Companies interested in digital twin development invited to join

In addition to partner companies, other companies may also take advantage of the solutions developed within the research project. Aalto University is creating a network of companies interested in developing digital twin technology. Start-ups and SMEs offering products or services in analytics, product development and maintenance are of special interest, but the network welcomes everyone interested in the field.

“Joining the DigiTwin network allows each member of the network to be among the first ones to hear what is happening with digital twins in Finland. The network helps to build new connections with companies of similar interests as well as with technology providers. In addition, the network allows the dissemination of ideas and information to other network members.”, explains Miika Valtonen from Remion. 

Joining the network is easy and free of charge. Just sign up on our mailing list, join the Slack discussion forum or contact Juuso Autiosalo for more information. 

Further materials: 

DigiTwin Demo Day presentations slides, videos and photos

DigiTwin website

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