Theses and Dissertations

Towards Developing a Digital Twin Implementation Framework for Manufacturing Systems

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Systems Engineering

Committee Chair

Robert, Cloutier, Ph.D.


Dr. Lippert, Dr. Montalvo, Dr. Walker


This research studies the implementation of digital twins in manufacturing systems. Digital transformation is relevant due to changing manufacturing techniques and user demands. It brings new business opportunities, changes organizations, and allows factories to compete in the digital era. Nevertheless, digital transformation presents many uncertainties that could bring problems to a manufacturing system. Some potential problems are loss of data, cybersecurity threats, unpredictable behavior, and so on. For instance, there are doubts about how to integrate the physical and virtual spaces. Digital twin (DT) is a modern technology that can enable the digital transformation of manufacturing companies. DT works by collecting real-time data of machines, products, and processes. DT monitors and controls operations in real-time helping in the identification of problems. It performs simulations to improve manufacturing processes and end-products. DT presents several benefits for manufacturing systems. It gives feedback to the physical system, increases the system’s reliability and availability, reduces operational risks, helps to achieve organizational goals, reduces operations and maintenance costs, predicts machine failures, etc. DT presents all these benefits without affecting the system’s operation. xv This dissertation analyzes the implementation of digital twins in manufacturing systems. It uses systems thinking methods and tools to study the problem space and define the solution space. Some of these methods are the conceptagon, systemigram, and the theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ in Russian acronym). It also uses systems thinking tools such as the CATWOE, the 9-windows tool, and the ideal final result (IFR). This analysis gives some insights into the digital twin implementation issues and potential solutions. One of these solutions is to build a digital twin implementation framework Next, this study proposes the development of a small-scale digital twin implementation framework. This framework could help users to create digital twins in manufacturing systems. The method to build this framework uses a Model-Based Systems Engineering approach and the systems engineering “Vee” model. This framework encompasses many concepts from the digital twin literature. The framework divides these concepts along three spaces: physical, virtual, and information. It also includes other concepts such as digital thread, data, ontology, and enabling technologies. Finally, this dissertation verifies the correctness of the proposed framework. The verification process shows that the proposed framework can develop digital twins for manufacturing systems. For that purpose, this study creates a process digital twin simulation using the proposed framework. This study presents a mapping and a workflow diagram to help users use the proposed framework. Then, it compares the digital twin simulation with the digital twin user and system requirements. The comparison finds that the proposed framework was built right.

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