Your mission, should you accept it, is to scope, secure, and retrofit an electric car assembly line in a remote corner of the world. You must complete your mission within 30 days or abort. This message will self-destruct in 30 seconds.
In the thriller movie series Mission Impossible, character Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) carefully plans targeted operations against global villains and rogue nations with a dizzying array of high-tech gadgetry. These tools and applications visualize every detail of a mission with perfect, 3D precision. They guide each member of the team through what they have to do.
Planning is precise. The margin for error: zero.
Point. Click. Transform.
As it turns out, science fiction and fact make one powerful combination in the world of manufacturing. SAP startup partner NavVis is leading that revolution by pushing the frontiers of indoor spatial intelligence.
Using advanced digital twin technology, a 3D digital replica of a real physical factory can be delivered to any device on a standard web browser. Now, plant engineers can visualize a facility project’s scope without ever leaving the office. Not surprisingly, it’s driving a powerful wave of transformation among the world’s leading global manufacturers.
For Carsten, a fictitious but true-to-life global facilities manager for a major OEM carmaker, it’s a dream come true. Carsten’s team has been asked to reconfigure an assembly line for a new electric-powered car model. The factory, located in a remote city in Asia, will require major retrofitting. Local teams have already warned of numerous dependencies that will make the project extraordinarily complex – and risky.
Carsten, however, has one important advantage. Like a growing number of companies who have embraced smart factory technology, he has access to a digital twin platform. Using a rich, immersive 3D interactive space, he and his team can quickly visit and inspect a factory floor from a web browser.
Like an action-adventure video game, Carsten and his team can move through the entire factory from a “player” perspective. They can click on objects to reveal pop-up windows that contain an asset’s technical specifications, repair and maintenance instructions, and more.
By enabling technologies for the smart factory, companies are succeeding in making facilities management a transparent, manageable process:
- Scanning the global factory portfolio. The indoor mobile mapping system uses sophisticated simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). This technology combines a mobile 3D laser scanning system with high-resolution 360° imagery. The system can scan as much as 30,000 m2 per day with minimal production disruption.
- Enriching 3-D data with business information. Once measured, 3D models (or point clouds) and 360-degree panoramic images are created. Specific building features, machines, wiring, and underlying infrastructure can be identified and enriched with additional information. Almost any imaginable piece of business information can be linked to an asset in 3D – from height, weight, and technical specifications to live sensor data, maintenance work orders, and instruction videos.
- Delivering success (the first time). With the images and data enhancements available, the new assembly line can now be planned. Rather than immediately go on location, however, teams can perform asset strategy and performance management remotely on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer. This makes it possible to plan highly focused, efficient onsite visits. Once onsite, managers can then quickly optimize workflows before making any physical changes to the assembly line layout.
“A digital factory twin needs to improve decision making and operations for all stakeholders–on site , remote, internal, as well as external,” says Dr. Felix Reinshagen, co-founder and CEO, NavVis.
“Having a detailed and up-to-date digital copy of the physical and spatial context is as important as having access to the relevant business information regarding work orders, assets, and sensors. Usefulness starts with accessibility and intuitive understanding. That’s why I believe that a visual and spatial representation of a factory is the best entry point for most users.”
Upping the game
As startups and new technologies define and redefine what smart manufacturing can truly achieve, predictive maintenance and asset management are taking on a whole new meaning. Because with the rise of Industry 4.0 and 3D virtualization, businesses are now free to more aggressively pursue greater cost savings and asset transparency – for an unstoppable competitive advantage.
Guest author Christian Boos is Vice President, SAP Startup Engagement for S/4HANA and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP. Christian and his team, working closely with the SAP.iO, engage with the most promising startups to expand the value of SAP’s S/4HANA portfolio for customers. They foster business-driven innovation and ensure startup solution integration succeeds by accelerating startup solutions within SAP’s open innovation ecosystem.
This article originally appeared on Digitalist Magazine, republished with permission.