Jettainer is setting to apply a concept that exists since 2002, but which has only recently, with the advent of the Internet of Things, started to come into its own: Digital Twins. First used by NASA as a solution to operating, maintaining, or repairing systems that are not within physical proximity, the Digital Twin concept is one where there is an exact replication in the virtual world of what exists in the physical world.
In the case of Jettainer, this means that all of its fleet of almost 100,000 Unit Load Devices (ULD) will receive an identical, virtual twin. That twin will mirror its physical counterpart in every way and will allow Jettainer to make informed decisions going forward. Monitoring and analyzing the lifecycle data that the Digital Twin accumulates, Jettainer will be in a position to ward off problems before they even occur, prevent downtimes, develop new opportunities, and even simulate future scenarios.
Keeping a virtual eye on things
“The gathering and smart combination of comprehensive lifecycle data yields valuable insights and enables Jettainer to optimize the use of ULDs economically as well as environmentally,” the press release states. The company is in the process of mapping the entire digital fleet, which will follow their physical counterparts every step of the way during the respective ULD’s lifetime. The pooled information will enable Jettainer to optimize how and where each ULD is deployed. Further, all relevant information on that ULD will be available at a glance and can be implemented to program automated decision-making going forward.
All good data comes in threes
Three sources feed into the digital twin environment: JettWare - Jettainer’s steering and tracking system, Jettainer’s asset database, and its repair flow management. “The smart solution clusters all ULD-specific information, starting with the unique identifier, the exact type and specifications, the manufacturer, the date of manufacturing and purchasing. It processes all past steering and repair events, repair specifics and processes real-time information on condition, status and location,” the statement explains. As the data builds up, Jettainer will be able to improve its data analysis and to automate workflows. It can use the information to enhance its decision-marking with regard to steering, positioning, and storing the ULDs, planning their repairs and identifying when a particular ULD is no longer fit for purpose and should be scrapped. Other companies deploying Digital Twin concepts have seen a 30% improvement in critical lifecycle processes. Jettainer can therefore also look forward to benefitting not only from a cost perspective, but also from a sustainability viewpoint given that the individual ULD deployment will be optimized.
As close to a crystal ball as you can get
The process and lifecycle optimization not only extends to the current ULD situation. The Digital Twin concept also allows an almost infinite number of simulations to be carried out, so that a company can better plan for the future. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Jettainer will be able to forecast more accurately and in greater detail. The statement clarifies that, whilst the first step is to focus on lifecycle and process optimization, “Jettainer already has an AI-based decision support system in place for ULD steering and sees great potential in creating and applying predictive models for example for ULD fleet renewal and overall purchasing decisions.”
Dr. Gert Pfeifer, Head of Operational Excellence Supply Chain at Jettainer, commented: “Digitization and the use of data has always been an integral part of Jettainer. The more data that is available, the more pain points arise though, such as quality assurance, and the transformation from data overload into real information and insights. With our setup of digital twins, we can automate workflows and support our teams around the world to make better decisions – faster.”
Digital twins are the very near future!
A clever move, since back in 2017, already, quoted in a Forbes interview, Thomas Kaiser, SAP Senior Vice President of IoT, predicted: “Digital twins are becoming a business imperative, covering the entire lifecycle of an asset or process, and forming the foundation for connected products and services. Companies that fail to respond will be left behind.” The same article forecasted that “within the next 5 years, billions of things” will be represented by digital twins, so Jettainer is right on track. 100,000 digitally twinned ULDs will be an impressive feat. Yet, one major Digital Twin project throws all others into the shade. Google to find out more about “DestinE” – that plan is to create a Digital Twin of our entire planet Earth!
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