Virtual experiments and digital twins in the European project ViDiT
Metrology is the scientific study of measurement focusing on reliability and is therefore the base for science, quality inspection, trade and many other needs of modern industrial society.
With the aim of enabling the traceability of modern measurement systems and therefore boost and strengthen the European lead in this field, in May 2023 the new research project “Trustworthy virtual experiments and digital twins” (ViDiT) started, funded by the European Union through the European Partnership on Metrology, co-financed from the EU’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme and by the Participating States.
ViDiT focuses on Virtual experiments and digital twins as key enabling technologies to achieve and realise European strategic policies devoted to sustainability and digitalisation within the complex framework of Industry 4.0 and the European Green Deal.
The consortium of this three-year project consists of 21 institutions: 8 National Metrology Institutes, 2 research centres close to industry, 5 universities and 6 companies. The project is coordinated by Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), based in Braunschweig, Germany.
Politecnico is involved as the leader of the work package devoted to the Uncertainty evaluation for digital twins. The research unit is coordinated by Prof. Maurizio Galetto, and is participated by Prof. Gianfranco Genta, Dr. Elisa Verna and Dr. Giacomo Maculotti, researchers of the Quality Engineering and Management Group (http://www.qualityengineering.polito.it) from the Department of Management and Production Engineering-DIGEP.
PoliTO research group will be responsible for coordinating the development of Digital Twins for the different phases of the project and overseeing the development of measurement uncertainty assessment methods for Digital Twins. Indeed, uncertainty is essential in order to make decisions, related for example to the maintenance of systems or the control and modification of processes, in which the Digital Twins of measuring instruments are embedded. In addition, a Digital Twin of a nanoindentation platform will be developed at Politecnico to predict measurement errors and drifts and to implement control strategies to mitigate them, including for the purpose of predictive maintenance.
Virtual experiments and digital twins are both simulation models that accurately replicate physical systems and characteristics in a virtual environment. Digital twins further include dynamic updates of the virtual model according to the observed state of its real counterpart. Hence, they consist of two parts, a Physical‑to‑Virtual connection that models the considered system and a Virtual‑to‑Physical connection that implements prevention and control strategies to achieve the target accuracy in the physical system.
The use of virtual experiments and digital twins in metrological applications requires uncertainty evaluation methods, as well as reliable validation procedures, to make them fit, e.g. as substitutes or extensions, to certified measurement devices. The ViDiT project will develop these methods and procedures to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of virtual experiments and digital twins in metrology. The four technical work packages and selected applications of the project are: coordinate measuring machine, tilted wave interferometer, flow measurement, 3D robotic measurement, nanoindentation, NanoCyl, and electrical measurement.
To facilitate the uptake of the developed methods, by National Metrology Institutes and industrial stakeholders, three good practice guides will be written, and the applicability of the methods will be demonstrated in twelve case studies covering the aforementioned industrial metrology applications.