Process Manufacturing Innovation: Fixing Long-Distance Problems Remotely

Imagine you are a company with oil rigs in the middle of nowhere. 

When problems arise or equipment fails, you have to send a technician with the right expertise out to the site to fix things as quickly as possible. 

Now imagine if you could create a digital twin of this far-flung rig. A virtual model that allowed your expert technicians to fix the problem immediately and remotely, from wherever they live. 

This technology also would enable regular maintenance from afar, and supervisors could predict future breakdowns and test solutions — all before a problem ever happens. 

MxD partners DMC Inc., Siemens, and Dow are developing just such a digital twin to enable mobile, remote workers in process manufacturing.

Through a project funded by MxD, the team is creating a digital twin framework to gather and analyze data in process manufacturing environments — with the goal of improving control and visibility.

A digital twin is a virtual model of real-world equipment or processes. It allows operators to perform tests to see how various actions would impact the physical assets on site. If a test works in the digital twin, it can be implemented in real life.  

Innovation in digital twin technology will be a game changer for process manufacturers, with many positive implications for predictive maintenance, cybersecurity, and workforce. 

When work can take place virtually rather than in a physically challenging environment such as a chemical plant, workers can operate more safely and efficiently. Workers willing to upskill and learn this technology will have more, better, and safer career options. 

And the digital twin could solve real-world use cases for project partner Dow.

Once the testbed, located on MxD’s Future Factory floor in Chicago, is up and running, it also will be open to other MxD members for future projects, testing, and experimentation.  

“Maybe a small or medium-size manufacturer will visit MxD’s Future Factory, see the testbed and get ideas on how to implement a slice of it in their own factory,” says MxD President and CTO ​​Federico Sciammarella. “This will be a showcase of this technology that other process manufacturers can copy or build off of. “ 

“Partnerships like these expedite manufacturing innovation,” Sciammarella said.

MxD partners with our top-tier partners, academic researchers, startups and the U.S. government to fund and launch digital manufacturing projects with commercial potential. Interested in future funding opportunities?