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December 7, 2020 Jeremy Boren

Ford’s High-Res Digital Twins, Wabtec CTO Keeps Innovation on Track

Source: Ford Motor Co.

*Image from Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Co. Uses Digital Twin Technology to Enhance Customer Experience

Ford Global Chief Engineer Mike Mikula of Ford Motor Co. spoke Dec. 3 about Ford’s Factory of Tomorrow.

Ford Motor Company’s “Factory of the Future” incorporates robots, co-bots, extended reality and even exoskeletons designed to assist auto workers with physically demanding tasks.

Each of those emerging, industrial technologies is in a different stage of implementation across Ford’s ecosystem. But the one innovation that ties them to the ultimate customer experience is digital twin technology, according to a top company engineer.

Ford’s goal is to move from “low resolution” to high resolution digital twins, explained Ford Global Chief Engineer Mike Mikula, who gave a keynote address during IndustryWeek’s M&T virtual conference last week.

“We are moving from what I would consider low-resolution digital twins to higher and higher digital twins,” Mikula said, referring to a digital twin representation of Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E, the company’s new (and first) all-electric crossover vehicle.

In the case of the Mach-E, Mikula said Ford’s high-resolution digital twin strategy is linked to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

“It’s not just the CAD and model representation of the product,” he said.

“It’s the characterization of the components and the subsystems and then connecting the characterization of those components and the subsystems with the data that we’re going to be able to collect from the vehicle in the field that will help inform our product development process to ensure that we’re continuously improving, and meeting and exceeding customer requirements,” he explained.

Mikula said the goal is to use digital twin technology to analyze how customers are using the vehicles features, measure performance and ensure the best possible experience.

GrayMatter’s presentation at the conference touched on the power of digital technology to solve problems in the context of developing a Brilliant Operations strategy.

Tod Virden, GrayMatter’s solutions architect, said it’s critical to begin by assessing the goals of key stakeholders.

“We would first off figure out what it means to a company,” he said.

“We start by interviewing all the key stakeholders and asking what does it mean to you?” Virden said. “What does the future look like when you are completely digitally transformed? It’s often eye-opening how different the different functions within a company view digital transformation, whether it be the operations team, lean team, manufacturing team, or the product team. It really does have a different meaning to everyone. We like to capture that and get everyone on a level playing field.”

Find out more about GrayMatter’s Brilliant Operations Strategy options and schedule a customized briefing here.

Note: A few briefing spots remain available this year. 

Wabtec CTO Combines Technology and Innovation to Advance Future of Locomotives

Source: Wabtec

Wabtec Corp. CTO Eric Gebhardt says it’s critical for Wabtec to continue its long history of technology innovation — dating back 150 years to George Westinghouse’s air brake — to serve its customers.

In an interview with IndustryWeek, Gebhardt highlights the fact that Wabtec has roughly 6,000 patents, with 300 of them issued just this year.

“Combining the technology and innovation with solid relationships enables us to always stand behind our equipment,” Gebhardt said. “We’re always upgrading and making our equipment more efficient and more reliable.”

One innovation Wabtec highlighted is its battery-driven locomotive, which can be equipped with a dynamic braking system.

Similar to “how electric vehicles use regenerative braking,” the system charges the locomotive’s battery with energy created during the train’s braking process.

Gebhardt tells IndustryWeek that he views his role as making the job of engineers easier by providing them with the right tools, training and leadership to be productive and innovative.

“And then always driving all of this with integrity, inclusion and diversity as we as we build out the best technology,” he said.

For the full interview, visit IndustryWeek.

To read about GrayMatter and Wabtec/GE Transportation’s major Brilliant Operations initiative, check out our story to learn how GrayMatter helped reduce unplanned downtime by up to 20 percent.

“Through GrayMatter’s offering of Brilliant Operations we have been able to discover and roadmap needs together, design ways for the machines to talk to each other and achieve incredible data insight for the people who work at Wabtec (formerly GE Transportation).”

Last Chance: emPOWERUP.virtual Wraps This Week

There’s one more chance in 2020 on Dec. 10 to join GrayMatter and GE Digital experts to learn about the latest digital transformation strategies.

If you’ve attended one of our virtual events earlier in the year, we’ll be hearing from some new guests, learning about new lean manufacturing topics and exploring how cybersecurity strategies like deception technology, aka deceptionGUARD, can help protect industrial workforces that are increasingly relying on work from home and remote access workforces.

If you’ve been putting it off, this week is your chance!

Signing up is easy, and free. Visit our registration page here for the event, which runs 11 a.m.-1 p.m. EST on Dec. 10.

For a preview of one of the topics we’ll cover, deception technology for industrial cybersecurity, listen to the latest GrayMatter emPOWERUP podcast episode, which features an interview with a Carnegie Mellon University researcher studying deception tech.

And if you happen to be in the water/wastewater industry – we have an extra opportunity for you this year.

The American Water Works Association is hosting GrayMatter and the Akron Water Supply Bureau for an hourlong online discussion at 11 a.m. EST on Dec. 15 about how Akron is connecting valuable data across its departments to enable some very powerful KPIs and performance improvements.

To learn more and register, visit AWWA here.


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Jeremy Boren

Jeremy is GrayMatter's Brand Manager and the author of TechHub and the emPOWERUP Podcast. He writes about digital solutions, trends and culture in the world of operational technology. Jeremy's background is in daily journalism. He has a passion for storytelling and enjoys highlighting the technologies and professionals taking on complex challenges in manufacturing, energy, cybersecurity and infrastructure.