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When it comes to digitizing production, many areas still reveal a gulf between rhetoric and reality. Yet the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF is continuing to close this gap. It has chosen HANNOVER MESSE 2018 to show how digital twins – the digital counterparts of tangible or intangible objects in the real world - can already be used in actual production environments, where they act as augmented reality assistance systems, for example, in plant engineering maintenance.

"Using digital twins in everyday production operations in a way that meets specific needs and is focused on results relies on one thing in particular - the data needs to be available at the right time," says Dr. Nico Zobel from the IFF. The scientists at the institute are thus working on virtual engineering methods for already developing digital twins during the engineering process for subsequent use during plant operations. The scientists know it's important for the solutions to be extendable to grow alongside companies' digitization needs. "Our mobile assistance system makes it possible to display the latest sensor data from the process engineering plant on a tablet or via mixed-reality glasses in the user’s direct line of vision," says Zobel. "And because many companies keep production offline to protect their data and equipment, our solutions are designed to be used both in the cloud and in isolation on a local intranet."