Vol 2 Issue 7
May 2020
In This Issue

Another Spin on Digital Twin

My December article was entitled "Digital Twin". Why cover the same ground again?
In the ever-evolving world of industrial automation, things can change quickly. In the case of terminology that is introduced to industry without clear definition, the same applies to digital twin.
My latest revelation came from a discussion with Lisa Seacat DeLuca, who leads the incubation and incorporation of the digital twins at a major participant in the industry. Until this discussion, I and members of the Industry 4.0 Lexicon team have been searching for the attributes that define what a digital twin is. After talking to Lisa, the perception of what a digital twin means may be much broader than we thought and may require a different approach.
We in the process industries have different usage cases than software providers may typically encounter, so differences in terminology may be inevitable. If you ask a papermaker what a pump or a valve is, the description will be a lot bigger with a lot more functionality than what you may get from the local hardware store. However, since much of the terminology we use in Industry 4.0 originated outside of industry, in order to do a thorough job, we need to go to the original source. Digital providers may be one of those sources.
What surprised me most from my discussion with Lisa is that her company has the following definition for digital twin: "A digital representation of a physical thing." That's it. The attributes are that it is digital and represents a physical thing. I asked Lisa if I pull 6 months of data for 50 tags from a Kamyr digester and save that file on a disk, is that a digital twin. She said yes; a dataset is a digital twin.
I think most of us would find it surprising that datasets that we have generated from the beginning of Industry 3.0 meet the expectation of the new and cool digital twin that is a buzzword today. Essentially, the term is so broad that it applies to darn near anything we have been doing for 50 years.
In further discussion with Lisa, there was refinement of digital twin into 3 states of operation:
OFFLINE: A digital twin that is not in any state of operation, such as a dataset sitting on disk storage
IDLE: Digital data is being used in runtime, but it is not connected to a live process, such as a simulation system
ONLINE: Digital data is being used in runtime and is connected to a live process, such as an HMI in a DCS/SCADA
This seems sensible; however, the wording can be problematic. In industry we typically refer to a simulation system as offline. If you have a hot spare DCS/SCADA system that has IO tiebacks or high-fidelity models to simulate the process, we consider this an offline system. In the 3 states listed above, it would be considered idle.
All 3 of these states have examples that have been with us since Industry 3.0. If we want to know which digital twins are new in Industry 4.0, it would appear to be a subset of those in the online state. Here are some names for digital twins of this kind such as:
Autonomous Twin
Maintenance & Part Twin
Technician Twin
Compliance Twin
Operational Twin
Operator Twin
The bottom line is that the term digital twin is new but actual digital twins are not new, and you can't know what a digital twin is without much further inquiry into its state and application.
For our Industry 4.0 Lexicon committee, I do not want our scope to be infinite. Ideally, I want us to get our first draft done before we get too deep into summer. Therefore, our definition of the term digital twin may be simply to adopt this broad definition: "A digital representation of a physical thing." This may be unsatisfactory, since we want to facilitate common understanding and clearer communication. However, we may be well served to admit that this term cannot be further defined and to warn industry to put further scrutiny into its interpretation.
Don't be surprised if I revisit previous topics in the future. My first article in this newsletter was posted in January 2019. A lot has changed since then. We are in an ever-evolving world.

Pat Dixon, PE, PMP, is president of www.DPAS-INC.com, offering project management and engineering for industrial automation projects.


His LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/dixonpatrick/.


Human/Machine Interface

From those not used to working remotely, there have been many cries of angst over the last few months.  Setting up a home office, getting the communications equipment correct and so forth has apparently been a challenge for many.

As I mentioned last month, here at Paperitalo Publications, this has not been an issue.  We are proceeding as normal.  Other than prospect and client visits, nothing has changed. We arrive at work at the same time we always have and leave at the same time.  We communicate the same ways we always have.

Looking back, I was so fortunate to have taken typing in high school.  I was not prescient, I just wanted to be able to type manuscripts in college (on a manual typewriter).  Little did I know this would be a key human/machine skill for at least the next fifty years.

I recent years, we have been seeing other input/output devices blossom.  This started in the early 1980's with computer mice.  Over the years, there have been handheld game controllers, virtual reality googles and so forth.

More must be forthcoming.  Industry 4.0 and 5G will give us the power to put more into friendly I/O.  Is the day coming when a control room will have a hologram figure telling us the conditions of our manufacturing equipment?  Will we talk to the hologram to give our input?  Will the hologram turn purple and jump up and down when critical conditions are out of control limits?  It all seems possible to me.

You are probably not surprised, but we have had Alexa Echo Dot in our home (3 units) almost since they were first introduced.  Only a hockey puck in size and shape, I have been impressed by the improvements and the personal touches that have happened here.  On Saturday mornings when I wake up and ask her for the weekend weather, for instance, she says, "Have a good weekend, Jim."  

Of course, there are always dangers with this technology--can we confuse real humans with computers?  Can we develop unnatural affiliations with machines (remember HAL)?

Development will continue, even with dangers.  However, I expect the QWERTY keyboard has nearly run its course.

Managing the Manufacturing Skills Gap Earlier

The future of manufacturing relies heavily on the investment of new talent, but earlier this year, the National Association of Manufacturers found that  522,000 jobs remained open in the sector -a clear indication that the manufacturing skills gap remains a huge problem. With 14 percent of young people viewing the industry as dull and repetitive  and just six percent of the industry believing it to be a young person's industry , it is hardly surprising that manufacturers are struggling to recruit.

Read article here.

Mark Hughes, Regional Vice President, UK and Ireland, Epicor


IIoT Comes to Traditional I/O
With intelligent, remote I/O, familiarity with IT networking and programming is sufficient to prepare and share data to any number of connected systems.

Read the entire article  here.
Josh Eastburn


Planting 40,000 trees per month
Flash Forest's tech can currently plant 10,000 to 20,000 seed pods a day; as the technology advances, a pair of pilots will be able to plant 100,000 trees in a day (by hand, someone might typically be able to plant around 1,500 trees in a day). The company aims to bring the cost down to 50 cents per tree, or around a fourth of the cost of some other tree restoration efforts.

Read the entire article  here.

Adele Peters

McKinsey: digital manufacturing, preparing for the new normal

In a recent study conducted by McKinsey, the organisation uncovered new insights into the challenges and success factors for European companies looking to implement digital manufacturing at scale. "The time for organizations to act and to implement digital is now," states McKinsey who reports that only 17 out of the 44 members of the  Global Lighthouse Network  are in Europe, and only three are using industry 4.0 tools across their end-to-end value chains.
A guide to Industry 4.0 Predictive Maintenance

Utilizing IoT tech to monitor the condition of machinery can help manufacturers lower costs, maximize output and improve the quality of their product.   

Read the entire article here.

Clint Johson


Industree 4.0 is exclusively sponsored by SAP