Integration of Discrete Simulation, Prediction, and Optimization Methods for a Production Line Digital Twin Design

Materials (Basel). 2023 Mar 14;16(6):2339. doi: 10.3390/ma16062339.


The integration of discrete simulations, artificial intelligence methods, and the theory of probability in order to obtain a high flexibility of the production system is crucial. In this paper, the concept of a smart factory operation is proposed along with the idea of data exchange architecture, simulation creation, performance optimization, and predictive analysis of the production process conditions. A Digital Twin for a hybrid flow shop from the automotive industry is presented as a case study. In the paper, the Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) algorithm is developed for multi-criteria scheduling problems in order to obtain a production plan without delays and maximum resource utilization. The ACO is compared to the immune algorithm and genetic algorithm. The best schedules are achieved with low computation time for the Digital Twin. By predicting the reliability parameters of the limited resources of the Digital Twin, stable deadlines for the implementation of production tasks are achieved. Mean Time To Failure and Mean Time of Repair are predicted for a real case study of an electric steering gear production line. The presented integration and data exchange between the elements of the smart factory: a Digital Twin, a computing module including an optimization, prediction, and simulation methods fills the gap between theory and practice for Industry 4.0. The paper presents measurable benefits of integration of discrete simulation tools, historical data analysis, and optimization methods.

Keywords: Digital Twin; Industry 4.0; ant colony optimization; discrete event simulation; integration; machine reliability; prediction.