Towards integrated version control of virtual and physical artefacts in new product development: inspirations from software engineering and the digital twin paradigm

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review

Abstract

Modern version control strategies are highly capable at supporting the management of virtual artefacts. The process of developing a new product, however, is not limited to virtual artefacts. Today’s fast-paced industrial processes require a diverse range of both virtual and physical artefacts to explore, refine, and evaluate designs. These virtual and physical artefacts are interrelated, and the information they embody, the knowledge they generate, and the transfer of learning between are fundamental to the design history. Consequently, there is a requirement to capture and curate both virtual and physical artefacts, iterations thereof, and the interrelationships between. The Digital Twin paradigm couples physical and virtual artefacts throughout the product life-cycle, providing a means to capture an evolving design irrespective of the medium in which the designer is working. Recent literature has, however, raised questions about the concept of a Digital Twin early in the product life-cycle when the design in question is conceptual (a cognitive model) rather than physical or virtual. This paper reflects on the challenges of implementing Digital Twin-based version control in the early-stage of new product development, moving towards integrated version control of virtual, physical and cognitive models/artefacts. Firstly, by presenting an argument that current design practices capture cognitive models through stakeholder creation and evaluation of physical and virtual boundary objects, the ambiguity surrounding conceptual design and the Digital Twin is addressed. Secondly, the principles of the Digital Twin and current version control strategies are reviewed to determine how one can maintain digital/physical synchronicity as a design evolves. Finally, this paper reflects on the implementation of such an approach and the proposed future work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages283-288
Number of pages6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work reported in this paper was undertaken as part of the Improving the product development process through integrated revision control and twinning of digital-physical models during prototyping at the University of Bristol. The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Grant EP/R032696/1. This study did not involve any underlying data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.. All rights reserved.

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