Use data as a strategic resource: Fraunhofer ISST develops "Shared Digital Twin" for data integration and data exchange

Anyone who operates industrial plants wants to avoid downtime. Accordingly, maintenance intervals should be adapted to the actual need to check the plant. For this purpose, data must be exchanged between the plant operator and the plant manufacturer. This process is only one example of many of the necessity of inter-company data exchange. The Fraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering ISST has developed an IoT architecture that integrates the data of such a company process into a "Shared Digital Twin". This data can be shared with other companies on the basis of connectors, whereby the company providing the data always retains control over the use of the data.

A typical scenario, in which data exchange between different data providers and data users in distributed value chains is of high relevance, is the condition monitoring of plants: The plant operator produces information about his plant, which he wants to make available to the plant manufacturer commissioned with maintenance. The plant manufacturer can enrich the operator's usage data with his own data on the machine and offer more precise maintenance intervals.

The digital twin: More than just a pure simulation of the "real world
A digital twin is about more than just a pure digital image of a real object or process: the core of the "digital twin" is data integration. The data can come from different sources and also have different formats. They are made available in a central repository over the entire life cycle of a corporate asset such as a plant or process. Various analyses can then be carried out with the data in this repository. These can come from the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning or predictive maintenance, among others.

Use of established standards for integration from exchange
The "Shared Digital Twin" was developed on the basis of the RIOTANA IoT architecture developed by Fraunhofer ISST. With RIOTANA, meaningful key figures can be generated in real time from the raw data of running processes (such as vibrations, temperature or friction). The Digital Twin uses the management shell standardized by the Industry 4.0 platform, so that the framework and interfaces of the twin are clearly defined and uniform.

However, "shared" means that the data does not just remain within the company itself, but is exchanged in network structures. The solution uses "IDS connectors" for this purpose. This is being driven forward by the International Data Spaces (IDS) initiative of Fraunhofer and numerous economic partners with the aim of enabling the sovereign exchange of data between different companies in a standardized way. When using the International Data Spaces, the data-providing company always retains control of the data by attaching conditions of use to the data it shares with cooperation partners. Both companies sharing the Digital Gemini can also enrich the data with information.

The Shared Digital Twin therefore uses two standards that have already found their way into the industry: the management shell and the IDS connectors. Which database is used in the twin can be decided variably based on the respective application.

The solution is being developed within the framework of the "Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Internet Technologies CCIT" and the "Leistungszentrum Logistik und IT". At the Fraunhofer CCIT, researchers from 13 Fraunhofer Institutes are jointly developing cognitive Internet technologies for industry ( The "Leistungszentrum Logistik und IT" bundles science and research in the competence field of logistics and IT in Dortmund.

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