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Digital twin: a revolution within reach of all companies

25 June, 2019

In our experience attending talks and conferences on digitization and Industry 4.0 and being speakers in many of them, we have often encountered a certain perception among medium and small companies that “this is not for me” or “my company is not prepared” when we talk about the digital twin as a key technology for the nearest future.

There is a widespread perception that identifies new technologies. Obviously, we are not going to present the process of implementing any disruptive technology as a path of roses; it would be absurd to think so, but it is no less true that the technologies are becoming more mature, their implementation times are shorter and the whole process is much simpler and more intuitive than it might seem at first glance.

Let’s look at any company today, both in its production area and in all its departments, and compare it to how it worked 15 years ago, when phone and fax were the kings of the office and production automation was much lower. It is true that many companies have stayed along the way, but an average company, to this day, is much less dependent on the telephone and fax when making, receiving or confirming orders, logistics companies allow us to carry out a real-time tracking of which Any shipment and on the production floor there are touch screens, digital control systems and automatic machines where there were none before, to give three examples.

We are living in a time of technological revolution in which the arrival times and implementation of new technologies are accelerating. What used to take 10 or 12 years to become everyday today takes half, and those times are going to continue to drop because the locomotive of innovation is accelerating steadily.

Standing still is not an option

The economy is already fully digital. This applies to all productive sectors, from agriculture or the production of raw materials to manufacturing or services. It is true that a few years ago we did not have the right connectivity so that digital technologies could fulfil their full potential, but that is already history, and it will be even more so with the recent arrival of 5G communication technology. In view of this perspective, doing nothing or waiting for others to do so first constitutes a clear (and sometimes irreversible) loss of competitiveness. We are talking about productivity improvements that reach 20%,  which is no joke. In the face of the new Industrial Revolution that Industry 4.0 entails, any company is obliged to react, because the company that does not will have serious difficulties to compete.

Accessible digital twin: Norlean’s challenge

In Norlean we knew from the beginning that our reason for being was to “democratize” the digital twin as a basic tool of Industry 4.0. That is, to turn a very complex tool that already works in many large factories into something simpler and more accessible, even by people without engineering knowledge, but no less powerful. The result is NOA (Norlean Operations Analyzer), which is more than just software to use. It is a tool that is able to feed data from very different sources (and that are now scattered in different applications), process it using powerful artificial intelligence algorithms and use it to perform a virtual 3D recreation of both the current situation and any scenario that you want to simulate.  Simply put, it allows us to move from a reactive approach (we make decisions based on past results and therefore cannot change) to a predictive approach (we make decisions based on the simulation of different future scenarios and knowing how the company will react to each of them). This represents a revolution in investment planning, CAPEX optimization, layout, planning of personnel needs and, in general, all the resources necessary to achieve the results that are in need.

The idea behind our digital twin is not to replace anything, but to add a top layer that allows the correct and scientific interpretation of the data without the need to be an expert in industrial engineering. Our decades of experience in the field of engineering and management optimization has allowed us to pour all that knowledge into a flexible tool, adaptable to the needs of any company or institution. We can simulate production results, but we can also simulate what will happen to a city’s traffic in different scenarios or what the energy performance of a building will look like before building or reforming it, to give three current examples.

The future awaits no one. It is time to seriously consider taking a different approach to management. NOA is Norlean’s tool that makes it possible.

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