HMGICS is a testbed of innovation to produce cars and for researching various innovative technologies for the production of future mobility. As a result, there are a wide variety of software-based systems that would not be found in a conventional production factory. In this part, we introduce “digital twin” technology, which is implemented in a virtual space modeled after a large space the size of six soccer fields and operates the factory remotely.
In recent years, the automotive industry has undergone a major change due to advances in the digital landscape and technology. In addition to owning a car, the demand for various mobility services based on innovative software technology is increasing, and the new mobility market is growing at a similar rate.
However, conventional mass production methods can’t keep up with such diversified market demands. This is because in the near future, uniform demand for one vehicle type will gradually decrease.
This is why a so-called “multi-model, low-quantity” system that produces different types of mobility in small batches has become necessary.
As a result of this, car manufacturers are reorganizing themselves to quickly respond to changing demands and increase productivity through “digital transformation”, which involves introducing digital technologies throughout the production process.
In fact, many mobility manufacturers are incorporating digital technologies from multiple disciplines into their manufacturing systems in the wake of COVID-19. Recently, automation technology has been applied to some processes in conventional factories to reduce costs and increase manufacturing efficiency. Furthermore, great efforts have been made to implement production automation and operation systems with virtual technologies.
HMGICS is a meta factory. The Center connects the real and virtual worlds by replicating the smart production facility built in the real world in the digital virtual world.
The key technology used to realize a meta factory is “digital twin” technology. This technology creates a three-dimensional model of the machines or objects that run a factory so that they can be viewed and manipulated as if they were real, even in a virtual environment.
Hyundai Motor Group uses digital twin technology to replicate the 86,900㎡, seven-floor building in a digital space. All the elements that make up the factory, including the massive production facilities and logistics systems of HMGICS, as well as the on-site workforce and automated robots, have been replicated in the virtual factory.
This virtual twin production center is perfectly synchronized with the real factory. Just as if they were working on the floor of the physical factory, workers can take a closer look at the inside of the facility through the virtual platform, or freely change and control factory operations.
In order to apply digital twin technology in a manufacturing environment, the necessary infrastructure must first be put in place. For example, in order to secure data in a manufacturing environment, it is necessary to build an IoT (Internet of Things) platform that links real-time data with various equipment that can collect this data.
This takes a lot of time and money, because the types of data that need to be collected are diverse and the scope is wide. In addition, processing data collected in the real world so that it can be used comfortably in the virtual world, or determining the scope of the virtualization of reality, are also basic processes of building a digital twin.
Hyundai Motor Group has reflected the many different conditions necessary for the implementation of a digital twin from the design stage of HMGICS. First, the underlying production facilities and processes, as well as all components, were designed to be mapped digitally and shared.
This data undergoes a process of “data standardization” to unify names, formats, codes, etc. Anyone can check standardized data without time and space restrictions through the system built by HMGICS. Past operational experience is also stored as standardized data, making it possible to look back on operational successes and areas for improvement. Furthermore, it is possible to virtually simulate future environments to continuously improve the way HMGICS operates based on new technologies.
Located on the upper floor of the HMGICS production facility, the Digital Command Center (DCC) provides an overview of the cell-based production process. This control room is where the implementation of digital twin technology is fully integrated. When you enter the DCC, the first thing you’ll notice is the data panel, displayed on a large, wide monitor. On this giant screen, the factory is displayed in the virtual space exactly as it is laid out physically on the floor below.
The virtual factory that exists in the DCC monitor is called the “H-Meta Studio”. This virtual space is synchronized with the manufacturing processes on the third floor and the automated logistics system on the first floor, which are all visible through the windows of the DCC. Therefore, the DCC allows for detailed monitoring of the entire process. This system also makes it possible to take a closer look at the status of operations, such as the movement pathways of the automated robots and the calling patterns.
Monitoring systems built on data and 3D modeling are different from conventional monitoring systems, such as CCTV. For example, when conventional factories are monitored by CCTV, the disadvantage is that the observation field is limited due to blind spots.
If something goes wrong during the monitoring process, someone must be physically sent to the site. The digital twin built by HMGICS has no blind spots as it monitors the factory through a synchronized system based on data, not cameras. In addition, problems that occur in the factory can be detected in a virtual environment and DCC can remotely control robots and equipment to respond efficiently.
Along with the implementation of a complete monitoring system, HMGICS can also run virtual simulations to investigate potential improvements. For example, when operating conditions need to be changed, such as the internal layout of a factory or the placement of automated robots, it is possible to use virtual simulation to validate new operating methods.
In a conventional factory, any changes to the production line or operating conditions require procedures such as a physical shutdown of the factory. However, these factory shutdowns cost a lot of money and reduce productivity. On the other hand, when simulation is done through digital twin technology, operators can efficiently design new processes and change existing methods in a virtual environment. In other words, simulation makes it possible to validate production lines and derive future operational results without stopping production, improving time and cost efficiency.
HMGICS is using simulation features in the logistics area as well. Data and AI algorithms are utilized to improve the work environment by reducing the workload of technicians and continuously improving automated logistics systems.
The manufacturing industry is difficult to transform digitally due to its large labor force. This is why establishing a digital twin environment in manufacturing facilities is not without its challenges. Today, HMGICS continues to explore ways to optimize factory operations with digital twin technology. Hyundai Motor Group plans to expand digital twin technology to other production facilities in the future based on the know-how gained from operating its first smart urban mobility hub, HMGICS.
Meanwhile, the process of Hyundai Motor Group developing digital twin factories in the virtual space that are identical to the physical production center, operating the factory by synchronizing the real and virtual worlds, is capitalizing on the power of various AI technologies. In the next part, we’ll learn more about how smart factories are utilizing AI technology through the example of HMGICS.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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