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First German-Dutch fieldlab should familiarize SMEs with digital twin and AI

Katrin Schütz, Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Labor and Housing of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, and Martijn van Gruijthuijsen, deputy of the Province of North Brabant for Economic Affairs, Education and Knowledge Development, jointly gave the go-ahead for the first German-Dutch Fieldlab for Smart Industry: "Artificial Intelligence for Digital Twins (AI4DT)." The formation of a network between two strong European regions is intended to promote the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for digital twinning and the exchange about it between companies.

Written by Link Magazine

21 January 2021

Katrin Schütz, Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Labor and Housing of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, and Martijn van Gruijthuijsen, deputy of the Province of North Brabant for Economic Affairs, Education and Knowledge Development, jointly gave the go-ahead for the first German-Dutch Fieldlab for Smart Industry: "Artificial Intelligence for Digital Twins (AI4DT)." The formation of a network between two strong European regions is intended to promote the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for digital twinning and the exchange about it between companies.

Written by Link Magazine

21 January 2021

"Digital twin technology is the key technology of the future to exploit the potential of digitalization in companies," says Peter van Harten, special representative of the Dutch Smart Industry Program and one of the initiators of the first German-Dutch Fieldlab. Prof. Daniel Palm, project manager on the Baden-Württemberg side, added: "A digital twin represents the connection of the real and the digital world. It is a digital image of real machines, products or systems such as factories or organizations with their properties, conditions and behavior. A digital twin can be used for faster detection of system states, for predicting future behavior and for more efficient planning. Especially in planning, machine learning and artificial intelligence play a major role in making the right decisions."

Huge opportunities

The opportunities for companies and in value chains are enormous. However, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular face many challenges in the design, deployment and use of digital twins and artificial intelligence. The issues and uncertainties relate to business models, technologies, security aspects, software, integration, employee competencies and access to objective information. These aspects make it difficult to effectively realize the potential of digital twins

The establishment of a joint Dutch-German Fieldlab " Artificial Intelligence for Digital Twins (AI4DT)" is a first step to address these challenges. Fieldlabs are environments where companies and research institutions can develop, test and implement intelligent industrial solutions. They are places where experts meet physically or virtually with entrepreneurs and engage in the practical application of solutions. They are networks of knowledge institutions, education, government and commercial companies that come together on a specific technical topic.

AI4DT Network

The AI4DT network consists of companies, experts and technology providers who meet regularly, inform and share experiences during joint events. For this purpose, a b2b collaboration platform is permanently available at www.ai4dt.com for b2b matchmaking activities and virtual events. In addition, solutions can be demonstrated at the physical locations in the project, the Brainport Industry Campus Eindhoven and the Werk150 - the factory on the campus of the University of Reutlingen.

The establishment and implementation of the AI4DT network is supported not only by the Ministry of Economy, Labor and Housing of the German state of Baden-Württemberg and the Dutch province of North Brabant, but also by the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation, IPA, the Steinbeis-Innovationszentrum, as well as by regional networks such as the Dutch Smart Industry program and the Alliance Industrie 4.0 from Baden-Württemberg, and advisory bodies such as the Steinbeis Europa Zentrum.

Making better use of potential

"The connection between two of the most innovative regions in Europe enables us to better exploit the potential of digital twin technology and artificial intelligence with combined forces. The network of companies and innovation partners from Baden-Württemberg and Brabant opens up a range of opportunities for our economy," said Katrin Schütz, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Housing of Baden-Württemberg, explaining the cross-border activity. Martijn van Gruijthuijsen, deputy of Economic Affairs, Education and Knowledge Development of the Dutch province of North Brabant adds, "There is a large number of very successful partnerships between the two regions. The successful cooperation in the production of chip equipment between ASML - the Dutch supplier of lithography systems, Trumpf and Zeiss is simply the best known. Trumpf supplies the lasers and Zeiss the optics for ASML's EUV systems. We need more examples like this - especially in the SME sector."

The focus of the initiative is on the cross-border networking of companies and research institutions in the two regions, supporting joint knowledge and innovation development and finally knowledge transfer.

Objectives of the joint activities in the Dutch-German Fieldlab AI4DT:

  • To build a network of companies in the field of Digital Twin and AI and to support B2B matchmaking,
  • demonstrating potential benefits with demonstration projects in the regional FieldLabs,
  • provide companies, especially SMEs, with low-threshold access to solutions, experts and knowledge,
  • promote the dissemination of scientific results and make them available to companies
  • promoting economic potential in SMEs by initiating and implementing projects using existing applied research and transfer funding forms, and
  • stimulating the development of partnerships (companies, research institutions, transfer centers) in the B2B sector.
  • Background Information Digital Twin

A "Digital Twin" (DT) combines the real and virtual worlds. It is a digital image of real machines, products or systems such as factories or organizations with their properties and behavior, transformed into a digital likeness. The behavior of the system is described by models and is continuously connected to the real world using sensors and real-time information. This intelligent linking forms the basis for optimizations in production, processes, machines and systems, the potential for productivity increases in companies being estimated by market research firms at up to 25% (source: IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IoT 2018 Predictions).

Artificial intelligence (AI) is needed to turn on this potential - on the one hand to sort, aggregate and evaluate data from the many sensors and IT systems, and on the other hand to plan future system behavior using digital twins.

By linking AI and digital twins, products can be improved, planning can be made more realistic and faster, process and layout structures in the plant or in the company can be dynamically adjusted, machines can be put into service virtually , goods can be located in the supply network and in the plant, and production and delivery of goods can be synchronized with each other.