Digital Twins in Scheduling
On a regular basis new concepts such as Digital Twins in Scheduling are introduced. Forbes Magazine defines the idea as:
“ …a digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product or service. This pairing of the virtual and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities and even plan for the future by using simulations.”
Often one is uncertain about whether the new term applies to a particular area, and if it does, what it implies exactly.
In this blog I will cover the concept of a Digital Twin from a scheduling perspective.
Digital Twins in Scheduling
The best way to understand this is: visualise opening the application screen for our scheduling tool, which shows the details of the producing unit e.g. factory. If after viewing the details we walk into the factory and the factory’s status is the same as seen on the screen, we have a Digital Twin from a scheduling perspective.
To accrue benefits from having a Digital Twin of production reality, the scheduling logic of the Digital Twin must contain all the rules necessary to develop a valid, actionable production sequence. In other words, it must have the capability to correctly extend the digital view into the future.
The benefits of Digital Twins in scheduling
This sequence would be equal to or better than the sequence that the Scheduler could devise manually. Generating this schedule would take a fraction of the time it takes to generate a schedule manually.
If this situation exists then the parents of this Digital Twin can switch from manual management of the factory (meetings, expediting, long frozen zones, etc.) to management of the resources via systems. Use of the system to manage the process will enable:
- Rapid rescheduling e.g. scheduling the factory daily, if not more frequently, to cater for changes in the real world, vs. weekly.
- Running multiple schedules to explore what-if alternatives.
The benefits as reported by case studies include:
- significant improvements in customer service across multiple areas.
- Substantial improvements in productivity
- Reductions in the value of stock necessary to provide the customer service levels desired.
- Significant reductions in Scheduling effort. This includes meetings, expediting, etc.
The difficulties of Digital Twins in scheduling
The difficulties experienced in developing and using a Digital Twin are found in ensuring data integrity and completeness plus having an accurate scheduling capability.
You know you have failed to develop a working Digital Twin if you have morning meetings to discuss production problems and priorities.
Digital Twins are a useful tool for scheduling if developed and managed properly. Scheduling can be largely automated which can not only improve speed, accuracy and productivity, but also reduce the labour required for scheduling.