Industry 4.0 is much more than just a buzzword. It offers a wealth of application possibilities and solutions for a wide range of challenges, such as optimized production processes or precise predictive maintenance. However, the core of this transformation is not just the introduction of a single new technology, but a comprehensive digitalization of manufacturing processes.
This development is driven by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), a connected infrastructure of devices and machines that exchange and process data in real-time. It enables the convergence of conventional Operational Technology (OT), which focuses on monitoring and controlling physical devices, with Information Technology (IT), seen as a driver for efficient data and process management.
At the heart of this transformation lies the concept of the digital twin. This is a highly accurate virtual representation of a physical component or system, informed by both static and real-time operational data. Changes in the real world are transmitted to and analyzed on their digital twin in real-time. This precise synchronization allows for adaptive and predictive control of manufacturing processes. Through these and other concepts, a significant increase in quality, cost efficiency, and competitiveness is achieved. Additionally, new business processes and models can be developed and existing ones optimized.
The challenge: Bridging the gap between asset data and business processes
In the context of Industry 4.0, the digital twin represents the digital counterpart of an asset – a term that encompasses everything from machines and their components to raw materials and finished products, as well as software and administrative documents such as plans, contracts, or orders. This representation includes all information that describes the characteristic properties and behaviors of the respective asset. For example, the digital twin of a machine could contain data about its current operating status, efficiency, and maintenance history.
To effectively utilize these digital twins, the Administration Shell, also known as Asset Administration Shell (AAS), comes into play. This cross-industry standard serves as the technical implementation of the digital twin and enables a standardized, global exchange of asset-specific data. This ensures consistent communication between different industrial plants, production systems, and engineering tools.
However, implementing these innovative concepts is not without challenges. It requires a comprehensive rethink of the architecture and infrastructure planning of industrial plants. This involves identifying, adjusting, and coordinating all processes involved. The multitude of involved action chains and process participants can quickly turn this task into a complex challenge. But with the right support, such as specialized consulting and tailor-made software solutions, this task can be accomplished, and an efficient, future-proof production landscape can be established.
The solution: The Neoception® Digital Twin infrastructure
Neoception plays a key role in today’s digital landscape. Founded as a subsidiary of the Pepperl+Fuchs Group in 2017 as a software partner with headquarters in Mannheim, the company provides forward-looking solutions for process optimization, standardization, and reliability. It paves the way for partners and companies to engage with current trends such as sustainability and connectivity – offering a comprehensive range of services that extend from the inception of initial ideas to the development of groundbreaking business models.
In this context, the Neoception® Digital Twin Infrastructure stands out as a digitalization and optimization of assets. It visualizes product information and enables a standardized exchange that transcends corporate boundaries, promising more efficient communication and improved processes.
The Neoception® Digital Twin Infrastructure empowers customers to independently generate and manage AAS. This process integrates various elements: Firstly, the integration of customer systems as the primary data source ensures that up-to-date information is always available. To standardize this data, a standardized semantics such as ECLASS is used, to which company data can be mapped. Furthermore, to meet specific requirements, customers can develop their own models or use existing standardized models. Lastly, the infrastructure allows for the integration of applications that optimize processes and create value.
The Neoception® Digital Twin Infrastructure offers the ability to dynamically generate AAS in real-time, eliminating the need for pre-creations or storage. This minimizes redundant data handling and ensures that the most up-to-date information is provided. Another advantage is its scalability: it easily adapts to the size and complexity of data volumes, enabling efficient management.
Our solution is built on semantically enriched AAS templates, with close collaboration with ECLASS playing a key role in their development. This approach not only promotes interoperability across different platforms but also enables precise and efficient communication. This includes real-time data, process data, as well as supplementary documents and metadata essential for digital transformation.
Data security is another central aspect of the Neoception® Digital Twin Infrastructure. At Neoception, data privacy is a top priority to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of information. Additionally, the infrastructure offers a wide range of output formats – from AAS to BMECat to EPLAN – thus enabling automatic processing and provision of unsorted data.
The universal availability of product information brings numerous advantages. It leads to improved service quality and efficiency, contributes to achieving sustainability goals, and accelerates engineering processes. Furthermore, customers benefit from seamless after-sales service and retrofitting, efficient recycling, the ability to demonstrate quality, and the provision of digital product documentation.
With the Neoception® Digital Twin Infrastructure, Neoception is not only to be understood as a software partner but also as a trailblazer for digital transformation. By significantly leading the industry towards a connected and sustainable future, Neoception takes a pioneering role in the digital revolution.