In this article on our Everything Connected series, we discuss the Digital Twine reference architecture for Industry and Services 5.0. This is a combination of digital threads and digital twins’ for future proofing the enterprise for holistic blueprinting of systems and processes to enable a customer centric enablement strategy. We feel that this is necessary for building smart and connected products, advancing current techniques, and utilizing the emergent technologies of Distributed Ledger, Actionable Intelligence, the Realities (Virtual/Augmented/Hybrid) and Quantum Computing, aka DARQ.
To enable our mantra of “Digital drives Physical“, we propose the Digital Twine as a fusion of the Internet of Things, AI/ML, Blockchain and other emerging technologies with a production ecosystem in cyber-physical environments. By showcasing its adaptability to different domains, we will prove that it is not bound to any specific industry but can be extended and adapted to varied situations. It is a model for thinking about the entire production process in a new way.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- VALUE DRIVERS IN ENTERPISE SYSTEMS
- THE REFERENCE ARCHITECTURE
- THE DIGITAL TWINE
- EXAMPLE USE CASE: REMOTE MANUFACTURING
An enterprise is an aggregation of people, processes and platforms that come together to provide for the basis for the company.
In this article, we will talk about our holistic approach based on a digital framework to enable coordination of processes in the enterprise and how it enables blueprinting use cases for brown-field, green-field and blue-sky initiatives end-to-end. It will correspond to automating processes to concert initiatives in our five-pronged approach of make, manage, move, market, and maintain (aka M5) to harmonize and optimize activities in industrial operations.
Knitting the cybernetic fabric entails creating an ecosystem of coordinating, processes, and the product pipeline, wherin
- part of the interaction takes place through physical production (the operational domain), and
- the other part of it is in the digital world (the information processing domain).
It is this mélange between OT and IT that needs to be correctly ascertained for coordination and optimization, IoT activities and harmonization of processes to enable the creation of truly disruptive products and services.
The composition of the above diagram represents the three phases of industrial automation. As we move from left to right:
- We ideate and iterate on the possibilities in the product development phase up-stream
- We linearize on getting the product built in the mid-stream phase of manufacturing
- We try and test out markets and gather customer feedback to market and sell down-stream
The following are key items that we need to account for in the various stages of solutioning and production:
- In the development process up-stream, it is important that the various stages of design, prototyping and testing are done in a coordinated and synchronized manner. Automation can be used to help with this by ensuring that the various steps are done in a consistent and repeatable manner.
- In production mid-stream, the use of Automation can help to speed up the manufacturing process and improve the quality of the products. It can also help to identify and correct any problems that may occur during the production process.
- For our connected products down-stream, Automation can be used to help manage and monitor the products and the various systems that they are connected to. It can also be used to help collect and analyze the data from the products and the systems they are connected to. This data can then be used to improve the performance of the products and the systems they are connected to.
Here are the high-level attributes within each of the streams:
Upstream Development Process
- Planning – Planning can be correctly coordinated by automating the generation of test data and test cases.
- Design – Automation can help with the design process by automating the generation of code skeletons and testing scripts.
- Implementation – Automation can help with the implementation process by automating the generation of source code and test data.
- Verification – Automation can help with the verification process by automating the generation of test reports.
Midstream Production Processes
- Procurement – Material and machine procurement and the creation of the right workforce
- Assembly – Automation can help with the assembly process by automating the assembly of products.
- Testing – Automation can help with the testing process by automating the testing of products.
- Packaging – Automation can help with the packaging process by automating the packaging of products.
- Shipping – Automation can help with the shipping process by automating the shipping of products.
- Configuration – Automation can help with the configuration of products by automating the configuration of products.
- Activation – Automation can help with the activation of products by automating the activation of products.
- Monitoring – Automation can help with the monitoring of products by automating the monitoring of products.
- Maintenance – Automation can help with the maintenance of products by automating the maintenance of products.
The diagram below shows the different system streams that are the key value drivers in a new enterprise to attain maturity to manage their processes. In a typical implementation, we approach maturity by looking at 3 horizons for growth based on our strategy – Groundwork, Battlefield and Breakthrough.
An architecture is “the fundamental organization of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment, and the principles governing its design and evolution.” A reference architecture framework defines how to create and use an enterprise architecture. It provides principles and practices for creating and using the architecture description of a system. It structures architects’ thinking by dividing the architecture description into domains, layers, or views, and offers models – typically matrices and diagrams – for documenting each view. This allows for making systemic design decisions on all the components of the system and making long-term decisions around new design, requirements, sustainability, and support.
We believe that the following three key areas will be important in the future as we continue to strive to achieve the ultimate goal of a fully connected product and service continuum:
- Platform Integration and Management: We need to be able to manage massive amounts of data from various sources, components, and devices seamlessly through the digital thread to realize the connected value stream through the product and service continuum.
- Intelligent Data Analytics: We need to be able to make sense of all the data that is being generated in order to make better decisions about what needs to be done with the product or service.
- Connected Services and Applications: We need to be able to provide new services and applications to our customers in order to improve their experience and get more value out of our platform.
The key to building an ecosystem for Industry is managing processes using the digital thread and enabling interaction with the systems using digital twin. This must happen in all phases of the ecosystem – Strategy, Innovation, Product Development, Smart Manufacturing, Logistics and Connected Commercials. Technology planning is not step one. First, companies need to have a good business strategy and tangible objectives. Once you have a good business strategy in place, what does that means for the product lifecycle process? We call it the Digital Twine – an assemblage of people, processes and platforms that need to be orchestrated to achieve coordination, optimization, and proactive assertions for the building of the tapestry for all aspects of Industry 4.0 and its progression to Industry and Services 5.0.
Our reference architecture, the Digital Twine enables the composition of new architectures that are needed for more real time, secure and frictionless interactions by coordinating all the streams that account for all interactions between the different processes in an enterprise.
The diagram below shows the composition of the Digital Twine reference architecture that corresponds with the different enterprise system value drivers to create a holistic view of all processes and their interactions.
It is based on the four themes: Design, Build, Evolve and Harmonize to collaborate between congruent streams of enterprise activity to enable and integrate consistency to optimize processes in an enterprise both within its boundaries as well as when connecting with partners, customers, and third-party services.
This will be further enabled using our other three tenets:
- the Manthan Design Philosophy for innovation,
- Tendril Connector for process and systems integrations, and
- the TAU Codex Transformer for multi-modal actionable intelligence.
We have utilized the above reference architecture to blueprint more than 15 use cases to define brown-field, green-field and blue-sky initiatives as shown in the diagram below. These use-cases are derived from more than 50+ projects that we have done for mostly Fortune 500 clients in the past 20+ years, and our intention as Numorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO) to help and implement new brown, green and blue initiatives.
Represented in the diagram is the reference architecture for the digital framework that connects the dots between the different facets for remote manufacturing, in this case on the front lines. It showcases the process flow from the start where we will utilize a catalog of CAD/STL files to the printing and maintain parts and the enabling of secure management of data for expeditionary manufacturing in the front lines.
Each of the numbered dots represents the coordination of people, processes, and technologies that we will evolve as part of this project alongside with our partners: Microsoft, Markforged and MxD to enable the expedited, optimal and harmonious response to enabling parts production in austere conditions. It represents the pull-push of information that we will implement to make the digital framework actionable.
This will also be the basis to develop the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual for the transition plan beyond the concept and pilot stages.
The Digital Twine is a new way of thinking about managing the product lifecycle. It is a strategy of thinking about and treating the end-to-end production process as a singular entity – an ecosystem of cooperating, self-organizing entities that make the systems work. It is an attempt to design a platform for the ecosystem of production, linking people, organizations, data, processes, and machines in the new paradigm in the same way the Internet is a new way of thinking about the exchange of information.
In the end, the architecture must solve production needs and the service and support of the products created. This in combination with the different requirements in respect of customization, scalability, depth, and scope should still allow a generic architecture like we described in the Digital Twine to enable blueprinting and solutioning as described above. Required elements and entities that arise from different existing business units as well as working groups to come, must be reflected in the architectural picture.
The reality of a connected world is here and now. Technological innovation is a core business strategy and the roles of a company’s strategy and technology leadership have become explicitly interwoven. Tomorrow’s leading companies will live by the creed of “disrupt or be disrupted.” The goal of NUMO is not just to create intelligent systems that can think and summarize but also enact – what we call actionable intelligence where the physical portion will be fluidly coupled to the trained basis of AI/ML.
- The Digital Twine Demystified
- Future Engineering
- The Hard Problem of Automation
- Digital Twine Use Cases
- DoD Proposal Response Project A – Operational Digital Twin (PROTECTED)
- Digital Twine NFTs
NI+IN UCHIL Founder, CEO & Technical Evangelist