A brother from a virtual mother: meet the Digital Twin Control Room
Ghent, BE - 2019
Although visualization is a great asset when trying to engineer or optimize an industrial manufacturing process, it is very difficult to establish an ideal environment. You don’t only need a way to visualize the floor plan, but also want to create a true-to-life immersive overview, showing the alterations on a realistic virtual model.
To this end, the Digital Twin Control Room was created, an impressive project by the University of Ghent’s Industrial Systems Engineering research group. Established in its campus in Kortrijk, this project was conducted in collaboration with Barco (visualization), Axians (integration) and Vogel’s (mounting structure). You can discover all about the Digital Twin Control Room by watching the video.
Inside the Digital Twin Control Room
Professor Johannes Cottyn, attached to the University of Ghent, gave us a tour around the laboratory. Here are the most remarkable impressions we got, which are not featured in the video:
The structure is specifically made for this setup by Vogel’s. This is because the standard curved mounting structure is anchored into the floor, which was not possible here because of the building’s underfloor heating system. The people from Vogel’s specifically adapted their free-standing structure to accommodate the needs of this application.
There is no physical connection between the production equipment in the laboratory and the Digital Twin Control Room. All links are established via the network. This means that there is in fact no need for the physical setup to be in the same room as the Digital Twin. Companies can thus meet in the Digital Twin Control Room and discuss the installation on their company premises. However, to fully create this link, some new cloud platform will need to be developed. This is the next project coming up for professor Cottyn’s department.
The screens used to create the curved video wall are Barco’s OverView KVD5521B. These modular LCD displays are mounted in portrait mode to create a very convincing curve, in small steps.
In order to create an immersive effect, the images on the curved video wall are rendered to represent the circular canvas. Every 4 screens (2 top and 2 bottom) the viewpoint changes, so a person standing in the middle can easily look around and feel part of the virtual world.
At the time of our visit, the screen mounted into the meeting table was not yet touch enabled, but a touch kit will soon be installed. Then, the joystick used to navigate will be complemented by manipulations through the touch table.
The cooperation between the University of Ghent’s Industrial Systems Engineering group and Barco is not new. There have been many collaboration opportunities in the past. For example, quite some students have conducted their master thesis at Barco, mainly on the production floor to examine operational improvements.