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Author's profile photo Petra Koepfer-Behncke

SAP´s Digital Twin – Connected for a lifetime

Connected for a lifetime –

Most of our customer have started their digital journey also in engineering. The product of ONE forces them to think new routes since these small production volumes require a new era to test and validate complex products in early stages of the lifecycle without the need for physical prototypes.

Now whenever a new machine or a new product is innovated the start of a virtual twin always is in engineering.

While the real twin will send data later in operations the different evolutions of the virtual twin is important to get the digital thread through the lifetime. In these more complex days having a ton of software in the product with smaller lot sizes even down to the product of one. The manufacturer and the operators are connected for a lifetime. These virtual images of actual machines, plants, processes, and products help companies of all sizes to develop, implement, and optimize their products, product portfolios and processes along the entire value chain.

On April 23rd HMI started for SAP. Together with KRONES, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of filling and packaging technology, we were showing an end to end scenario around the digital network where SAP once again outlined its strength in the digital twin space.

Based on customer service improvements from SAP Asset Intelligence Network and internal innovation streams leveraging Sap Innovation Management, new requirements are identified to start a new design in engineering. To see whether these requirements are realistic and which components are impacted an impact analysis is created in SAP S/4Hana Cloud for intelligent product design. Once it is clear which components of the product needed to be changed a cost estimate is triggered before detailed design starts. To hold this intensive collaboration among all parties together a collaboration room is opened where all parties will be informed and managed through an extensive collaboration functionality. Once the decision is made to release this product change the product manager now releases the start for the new design.

This is when detailed design kicks off in detailed engineering departments and the respective CAD, E-CAD or software models are created.

While modelling the new components and underlying product structures the document structure is managed in SAP DMS and all originals and supporting documents are managed centrally. This also is the system of record for all digital threads so to speak.

Now the final new product structure will be created based on the new models and the BOM for engineering as well as for manufacturing is derived from it. Virtual work instructions are outlined based on the chosen manufacturing technology which will then be handed over to production. To start production, it is always necessary to create some physical prototypes to check if the product is working in the bigger product context and meeting the customer requirements.

The digital twin which is born in engineering is stored in manufacturing as the as built structure and will be handed over to service for the owner and the operator of the product as the digital representation and the as operated product structure and individual instance. Leveraging SAP Asset Intelligence Network the constant feedback loop based on failure mode analysis is fed back and the digital thread from engineering through manufacturing into operations and serve back into engineering is laid out.

Starting in engineering the foundation for the digital twin is established now and handed over to manufacturing and the asset network in one go…

What’s new?

In the manufacturing industry, a Digital Twin has three forms: the product, the production, and the performance of the product and production. The design of new products or machines already results in the Digital Twin of the product, whose properties and behavior can be realistically simulated with the help of the corresponding software. This enables tests and validation of complex products without the need for physical prototypes. There is no twin on its own in engineering, manufacturing and operations standing on its own feet, there is a network of twins where the digital thread is the interlinkage between the different views to the product.

What is the product’s main benefit for the customer?

  • One system of record
  • Each discipline has its own view on the data
  • Shared feedback from operations into engineering based on live data
  • Simulation capabilities lower cost and improve margins


A digital twin strategy is certainly not an afterthought. It helps you the better deal with uncertainties which will occur if you like it or not. If you ignore the fact the reality will tell you differently.  Rising competition, commoditization, and price pressure, digital transformation is crucial for machinery and production plant manufacturers. Here’s how to start off.

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