Requirements for the digital twin differ greatly depending on the machine’s life phase (i.e., develop - ment, use, service). The machine operator uses a digital twin to ensure, on a virtual level, that CNC programs are fault-free and will deliver the desired machining result on the first go. This saves the machining time otherwise spent to run in the parts program step-by-step. It also allows the operator to ensure that a new NC program will not cause any collisions between a tool or clamp and the machine or workpiece.
In short: during production, the digital twin is there to ensure that the machine will run reliably and is relieved of process steps that serve no purpose. The fact that the machine itself will function as intended is taken for granted, and not checked using the digital twin.
Electrical engineers, software departments, and machine builders’ service technicians, on the other hand, are interested in exactly that: they use the digital twin to ensure that the machine will function in line with its specifications. Testing the interplay between the CNC application and actuators, sensors, and the mechanics is the key here. All conceivable operating situations are played out in advance, and special occurrences are taken into account in the CNC application. Following approval and delivery of the real machine, service technicians use this digital twin to track down malfunctions and offer solutions without having to travel to the customer.
The area of focus for the machine builder is shortening the development periods and time-to-market. This is achieved by shifting development stages to the virtual sphere, saving the creation of mechanical prototypes, and maximizing the operating safety and availability of the machine. Unlike the machine tool operator, the machine builder does not have to create fault-free CNC programs, but makes use of triedand- tested, quality- assured parts programs for prototype tests that need to be run.
These two fundamentally different perspectives shape how the digital twin is used — that is to say, the software and hardware environment in which it is deployed. These differ depending on how the digital twin is to be used, what options it must offer the user, and which are not needed..