I am on a mission to reveal the benefits of the Internet of Things and to encourage customers to take the first step. For this reason, we at itelligence are working with IoT use cases that are based on real business scenarios. In my first blog of this “Bring Your Things to Life” blog series, I described the mixed reality use case for service technicians.
This one deals with the digital twin as applied to the product lifecycle management of a warehouse. We will have a look at all parties involved: the manufacturer, the operator and the maintenance provider.
What Is a Digital Twin?
Admittedly, this is a really fancy term, but in my eyes, it represents its meaning quite well. The Internet of Things is about bringing things to life. So, the digital twin is the virtual reflection of a physical thing, like a piece of equipment, a machine, a vehicle or even a warehouse, which we will describe in the following case. Sensor data captures the live situation and gives a perfect simulation of the physical counterpart. Mostly, digital twins are running in a cloud environment, which makes all the information and communication accessible for different stakeholders at any time.
This results in transparency in the product lifecycle that was never there before. We are capable of completely new ways of collaboration across company borders and the amount of imaginable applications is huge. We opted for a high-bay warehouse we nicknamed Marlene, to show a scenario involving a digital twin. Let me explain the details:
The Digital Twin of a Warehouse in the Asset Intelligence Network (AIN)
Think of an automated high-bay warehouse fully equipped with sensors. You have a manufacturer who built and sold it to an operator who, in turn, charged a service provider to maintain it. In the past, documents about operating and maintaining these warehouses along the entire lifecycle were handled using paper or were sent by e-mail as PDFs. Getting access to full documentation was not that easy for service technicians. Feedback process flows from the operator or service provider to the manufacturer – or the other way around – with optimizing potential, were rarely created. In the end, there was a lack of transparency throughout the whole product lifecycle.
We worked on this use case with the SAP Asset Intelligence Network (AIN) within cloud architecture. All sensors of the high-bay warehouse model have been fully integrated and connected to the AIN, and the digital twin was born. Through the cloud solution, all parties have access to health and environmental information and documentation and are able to communicate at any time, in real time, and from anywhere.
The operator monitors the health status of his warehouse and is able to create service tickets in case of errors or if maintenance is needed. In this case, the service provider has live access to all error codes of the machine and the entire library of documentation from the manufacturer. Predicted maintenance scenarios are also imaginable. Let’s say the manufacturer optimized some components. Meanwhile, he can directly create and announce the innovation and share it in the network with all participating parties.
This represents a new level of process integration and transparency for collaboration between different players. As a result, the level of efficiency that could be reached is tremendous. Moreover, scenarios like these are paving the way for new business models.
Internet of Things Use Cases Show New Ideas for a New Era
Technology enables data capturing, processing, and integration on an incredible level. We are now in the lead to develop the groundbreaking ideas that leverage technology for business success. Working in networks instead of silos and having a mindset of new openness to create added value, as in the scenario described above, are some of these rethought techniques. My previous blog article about mixed reality is about a new way of accessing digital/virtual information. As you can see, the amount of new techniques is unlimited. Give yourself a chance. Take it, start it – maybe the use cases introduced here will inspire you on this path.
When you have a look at the situation in your company, what is your starting point? Check the digital maturity of your company with our free online tool. It just takes a few minutes. Get started at https://maturitycheck.itelligencegroup.com.
What about your company?
itelligence’ IoT experts developed a brief check of up to 9 steps for you. It helps you to get a quick understanding of your organization’s digital maturity level and of where you are starting from. The short assessment considers your business model, products and services as well as your processes. The abstract you receive afterwards gives you essential input to identify your organization’s strengths, priorities and weak points, and to define your digital vision.