With the shift to industry 4.0 underway and a near complete digitalisation of existing work processes underway, growing pains can be seen all throughout the industrial sector. Some of these struggles lead back to the order and production of individualised products and the lifecycle management that has become vital.
A recent tool that seeks to help with these issues is the digital twin. Digital twins are digital manifestations of products and can contain all of their relevant information, keeping it all in one place. While digital twins are a promising step in the direction of a true industry 4.0 there are issues with standardisation of these twins, due to the fact that each manufacturer has their own type of digital twin and these are often incompatible with those of other manufacturers.
Asset administration shells (AAS) seek to tackle this problem and are a relatively new development in the German realm of industry 4.0. They lay the ground work of specifications for digital twins (DT), to enable DTs from different developers or manufacturers to be universally compatible with one another.
These AASs can both be used to describe and model an object and also communicate with it, retrieving relevant operational data or performing commands. These types of use cases can be useful when it comes to a manufacturer providing data on a product to a customer (i.e. operating manuals, CAD models, receipts, etc.). Or during the lifetime of the product either being accessed by the customer, or maintained by the manufacturer.
The following leaning module will go into detail on what an AAS consists of, what they can be used for, what tools are necessary to work with them and the current shortfalls the technology faces.