From product life cycle to digital life cycle management
The automotive industry leads the way when it comes to innovative simulation technology. For many years, simulation technology has enabled leading manufacturers to successfully achieve shorter development cycles and lasting cuts in engineering costs. Despite these undisputed advances, conventional simulation solutions are by no means the last word in digitalization in the automotive industry. In fact, the full potential of Virtual Reality only becomes apparent when digital engineering and vehicle data are brought to life by Real-time applications.
These Real-time solutions open up whole new horizons in terms of the interaction between humans and digitalized product models. By means of a Digital Twin, they transform conventional product life cycle management into a new form of digital lifecycle management. As the name suggests, the Digital Twin mirrors every modification of its physical counterpart in real time. This provides real objects and processes with a virtual, software-based mirror image in the digital world. This Digital Twin can be managed just as efficiently as a software program and its lifecycle – including regular updates and ongoing adaptation to new requirements and environments.
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At the Daimler EDM CAE Forum 2017, held at the International Congress Center at the Messe Stuttgart fairgrounds, Mackevision used a Digital Twin engine to demonstrate the concrete effects of this latest step in the fusion of the real and virtual worlds. On show at the Forum was a virtual image that Mackevision had created via live visualization from the original design engineering data of the engine.
Simply by moving an ordinary cursor in the conventional way, the virtual engine on the computer screen could be rotated, swiveled and viewed from different angles. Geometric cross-sections at any given place and angle were easily created, and the cutaway engine could even be “run” to demonstrate the behavior of specific components at various engine speeds.
Impressive as conventional operation of the model via touchscreen or mouse may be, this solution is even more sensational when used as a genuine virtual reality application: In this case, the user becomes an avatar who can take a virtual journey through the digitalized engine model and evaluate it from every conceivable angle while it is stopped or running. The model of the Daimler engine in Stuttgart forcefully demonstrates the potential for radical streamlining of the product development workflow. The joint interaction of engineers and designers with the digital prototype will also shorten the time needed for coordination and agreement of any modifications. In addition, the early availability of “working” digital prototypes finally paves the way for the automotive industry to adopt the same agile development strategies as are already used in contemporary software development.
The exhibition showcase of Mackevision’s new Real-time solution provided an impressive demonstration of the extent to which the real-time virtual reality approach can improve the response to the current challenges in the competitive auto-industry arena. Significantly shorter development cycles mean a correspondingly shorter time-to-market – with the added bonus of much lower costs. Finally, an important point when it comes to estimating the level of investment required: The solution demonstrated by Mackevision at the exhibition generated the Digital Twin of the engine entirely from existing engineering data.