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The manufacturing industry's growing demand for simulated "digital twins," which can allow early testing of products before they are built, could boost Central Florida's budding sensor industry."Digital twins" use a virtual environment...

'Digital twins' mean big things for sensors in Central Florida

The manufacturing industry's growing demand for simulated "digital twins," which can allow early testing of products before they are built, could boost Central Florida's budding sensor industry."Digital twins" use a virtual environment...

'Digital twins' mean big things for sensors in Central Florida

The manufacturing industry's growing demand for simulated "digital twins," which can allow early testing of products before they are built, could boost Central Florida's budding sensor industry.

"Digital twins" use a virtual environment to recreate the systems that make products such as a driverless car or a wind turbine function.

Variables — perhaps hurricane-force winds on a turbine — can then be introduced into these systems to see how products would perform.

The data that creates that model and those effects are gathered by sensors on actual turbines.

"Any complex system can benefit from having a very high-fidelity digital twin," said Chester Kennedy, CEO of the International Consortium of Advanced Manufacturing Research in Kissimmee. "You can replicate that thing 15, 20, even 100 times to put them through different environmental factors and variations. It would take tremendous amounts of time and money to do that the traditional way."

J.C. Carnahan counts down the Orlando Sentinel's Top 10 high school football plays from week 5 of 2016.

J.C. Carnahan counts down the Orlando Sentinel's Top 10 high school football plays from week 5 of 2016.

J.C. Carnahan counts down the Orlando Sentinel's Top 10 high school football plays from week 5 of 2016.

J.C. Carnahan counts down the Orlando Sentinel's Top 10 high school football plays from week 5 of 2016.

Standard Motorcycle Co, a community garage, hosted an event in collaboration with the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise money for prostate cancer research.

Standard Motorcycle Co, a community garage, hosted an event in collaboration with the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise money for prostate cancer research.

Proceeds from Patrick Gibson's song 'Gone' will go directly to CureSearch for Children's Cancer. He will be performing at Green Meadows Farm in Kissimmee Saturday, Sept. 24, and 25. (www.pgcountry.com)

 

 

Proceeds from Patrick Gibson's song 'Gone' will go directly to CureSearch for Children's Cancer. He will be performing at Green Meadows Farm in Kissimmee Saturday, Sept. 24, and 25. (www.pgcountry.com)

 

 

Marco Carnahan from Cocina 214 joins food reporter Lauren Delgado in the Sentinel Test Kitchen to make guacamole (and puns).

Marco Carnahan from Cocina 214 joins food reporter Lauren Delgado in the Sentinel Test Kitchen to make guacamole (and puns).

UCF is the first public university in Florida to allow service dogs-in-training in university housing.

UCF is the first public university in Florida to allow service dogs-in-training in university housing.

The traditional way was to actually manufacture beta versions of products and test them repeatedly.

But a surge in sensor use, with everything from coffeemakers to fighter jets using them, has expanded the ability to recreate products virtually and speed up their engineering.

"Digital twins prove out the endurance of an engine, or what will wear out and they make the engines more reliable," Kennedy said. "That kind of research would have traditionally taken years."

The emergence of digital twins has the potential to boost Central Florida's economy at existing businesses and for those relocating here.

This summer, ICAMR broke ground on a 109,000-square-foot, $71.4 million facility in Kissimmee with plans to build the region's influence in the sensor industry. Belgium's Imec, which conducts research on sensors that can help more quickly detect problems such as cancer or water pollution, announced in July that it would locate more than 100 employees there.

The concept is mostly about saving businesses money, said Michael Grieves, the executive director of Florida Institute of Technology's Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design in Melbourne.

"I can take cost out of my models by doing simulations and figuring out whether the products I'm developing are going to do what they are supposed to do," said Grieves, who helped pioneer the digital-twin concept while at the University of Michigan in the early 2000s, long before the technology was around to build effective representations.

Today, a suite of software products known as product-lifecycle management, or PLM, has given businesses a shortcut to building these virtual representations.

Siemens, a global tech company that created PLM software and employs about 5,000 people in Central Florida, has provided the University of Central Florida access to its software, so students can work with the virtual models that so many businesses use.

The software offers engineers a glimpse into how systems work at every step of development, offering the ability to tweak design and changing the way products are built, said Stefan Jockusch, vice president of strategy for Siemens' PLM division.

For instance, with the PLM software, he said, an engineer can look at the 25,000-plus individual parts in a 2017 Chevrolet Impala and how they interact during use.

"Today, every system you use in a vehicle's engine, for example, even those we think are mostly mechanical, are controlled by software," he said. "The simulations allow us to experience things you usually wouldn't think you could experience unless you saw the physical product."

Grieves says preparation and planning made possible by digital twins can also help improve the safety of consumer-based services.

"You can predict failures before they occur," he said. "I don't want a jet engine to fail at 30,000 feet ... I want to have that engine sensored such that when it sees certain conditions [within its systems], it can detect that there will be a problem within 30 days."

msantana@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5256; Twitter, @marcosantana

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