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Integrating labs in the production chain with digital twins and threads
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Integrating labs in the production chain with digital twins and threads

Two key expressions of digitalization in Smart Industry are digital threads and digital twins,” Van Barneveld says. Digital threads are the strings of digital information that accom- pany products on their journey through the production chain. Digital information is added at every step along the way, in the manufacture of parts, components and end products. This data can pertain to the quality and origin of raw materials or to the production condition. “Today’s assertive customers demand demonstrable quality, based in part on complete traceability. On top of that, there’s a demand for personalized products and packaging. You want to order green M&Ms only? No problem!” says Van Barneveld.

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EXPERT VISION EXPERT VISION Arjen van Barneveld, MOMS Portfolio Development Manager at Siemens Digital Industries Software “Integrating labs in the production chain with digital twins and threads” “Digitalization is the dominant trend in every industry. If you don’t keep up, you lose out,” says Arjan van Barneveld, who heads Manufacturing Operations Management Software BeNeLux at Siemens. Why is digitalization so important in the lab industry? “Because labs are a key connection between physical reality and its digital representation in Smart Industry.” Text: Leendert van der Ent | Translation: Word’s Worth Photography: Marco Vellinga “Two key expressions of digitalization in Smart Industry are digital threads and digital twins,” Van Barneveld says. Digital threads are the strings of digital information that accom- pany products on their journey through the production chain. Digital information is added at every step along the way, in the manufacture of parts, components and end products. This data can pertain to the quality and origin of raw materials or to the production condition. “Today’s assertive customers demand demonstrable quality, based in part on complete traceability. On top of that, there’s a demand for personalized products and packaging. You want to order green M&Ms only? No problem!” says Van Barneveld. ‘The ultimate goal is to create a continuous sequence of closed loops’ Digital twins are digital reflections of physical products or physi- cal production environments. They are extremely useful for tes- ting innovations: if something goes wrong, or an unexpected event occurs, it’s just the virtual production line that grinds to a halt and not your actual line. Digital twins are closely connected to the data from digital threads. Production chains How are digital threads and twins relevant to laboratories? Van Barneveld sees it as an eye-opener: “It shows that labs need to 5 LABinsights | October 2019 October 2019 | LABinsights 6 EXPERTVISIE look beyond their LIMS, to a platform where all digital information streams can converge. Labs are becoming an integral part of the total production and information chain. In product development, the choice for a particular level of quality, quality assurance and the processing of those data, are all done by labs. For every one of those processes, there’s a reciprocal data stream between the laboratory and production. Labs are part of both the digital thread and the digital twin. If a lab notices deviations, this affects the manufacturing process, the suppliers and the buyers.” Labs that don’t keep up with digitalization will eventually lose their market position, Van Barneveld believes. “Let me give you an example: if you want to export your product to the USA, it must support Amazon’s Alexa; if it doesn’t, your product will never hit the stores.” This example also illustrates that manu- facturers have to take into account the local regulations and demands from every location on the globe where they want to sell their product. This leads to a large number of variations in formulation and products, all of which have to be managed digi- tally. As Van Barneveld says: “For every product, there has to be ‘Information about the origin of materials and parts can be exchanged through blockchain’ a closed loops policy for the development plans, the manufactu- ring simulation (digital twin) and the actual manufacture (digital thread). Every one of these aspects is connected by means of data streams. This ranges from the orange harvest to the nutriti- onal information on the orange juice’s label; or from the pasture to the QR code that shows the Chinese consumer the cow that produced the milk that was freeze-dried into baby formula. The challenge is to create an integrated quality validation throughout the entire value chain with the help of laboratories.” New mirror These developments increase laboratories’ importance to busi- nesses. Simulations always require analysis, Van Barneveld says. “The demand for isolated analyses is disappearing. Product and manufacturing development and monitoring of the actual manufacturing process are all virtual steps in which laboratories are involved as well. There’s a continuous interaction between the data in a virtual system and its physical manifestation: an actual product, packaging and manufacture.” Sounds vague and futuristic? It’s already part and parcel of Red Bull’s Formula 1 racing team. Measurements of the aerodynamics of a wing mirror ‘All this information has to converge on one platform’ led to a new design. The design was tested in a digital twin, then manufactured and tested in real life. The data from this real-life test were used in turn to enrich the digital twin. “The ultimate goal,” says Van Barneveld, “is to create a continuous sequence of closed loops for improvement. Findings from lab analyses have an immediate effect and are followed by changes to the product, its packaging or the manufacturing process.” Fully integrated Data-based continuous improvement can only be achieved with the help of lots of information technology. Van Barneveld says: “Information about the origin of materials and parts can be exchanged through blockchain. Much of the data will be stored in the cloud. For analyses, businesses can make use of an IoT platform. LIMS allow labs to manage which employees have rights to carry out particular analyses, and to determine when, and how often, particular samples are analyzed. New LIMS will have to venture beyond the lab walls. They will have to be fully integrated with a company’s Manufacturing Execution System and its Enterprise Resource Planning system. Is this part safe? Does it comply with the applicable rules? Are the suppliers cer- tified? Does the product meet the pre-defined standards? All this information, the entire digital thread from formulation, spe- cification and quality control, has to converge on one platform.” Siemens Digital Industries 7 LABinsights | October 2019 Siemens Digital Industries is the global market leader in industrial automation and digitalization. Siemens Opcen- ter is a holistic Manufacturing Operations Management System (MOMS). The Simatic IT Unilab LIMS is easy to integrate with the other components of the Manufactu- ring Execution System (MES). Siemens’s cloud-based open Internet of Things (IoT) operating system is cal- led MindSphere. It allows businesses to connect their products, installations, systems and machines and to analyze the data via the IoT for targeted optimization.
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