“The first wave of Industry 4.0 brought transparency and some predictiveness, but it did not really combine real-world data and the capability to simulate,” Pierre Bagnon, vice president, global head of intelligent industry accelerator at Capgemini, told Automotive News Europe. “There are still a lot of silos.”

In the automotive industry, digital twins can break down the walls between product development — the domain of designers and engineers — and process engineering, where cars go from prototype to production, said Bagnon, who worked at Robert Bosch for more than 15 years.

“What we dreamed of was an ideally production-friendly product design,” said Bagnon’s colleague Matthias Eisenschmid, vice president, head of automotive production and supply chain management, Capgemini Invent Germany, and a veteran of production planning at Mercedes-Benz. Digital twins are a “game changer” for this use case, he said, allowing product and process to develop in a synchronized, parallel way.

“You get a production line that is mature right from the start,” Eisenschmid said. “In the past you had to spend a lot of time and money in physical production to ramp up and optimize the processes. Using an industrial digital twin, you can identify and solve most of your problems upfront in the virtual phase.”

Digital twins can shorten time to market by 20 to 30 percent, improve quality by 20 percent and resource efficiency by up to 40 percent, Bagnon and Eisenschmid said. “That’s the magnitude of ambition that our clients are putting in place to justify the investment,” Bagnon said.

“It’s a multimillion-dollar investment, but the more important question is what will happen if you don’t do it?” Eisenschmid said. “There are new competitors who are already taking significant advantage of these new technologies as common tools.”

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