Transfer Learning as an Enabler of the Intelligent Digital Twin

Benjamin Maschler, Dominik Braun, Nasser Jazdi, Michael Weyrich

Digital Twins have been described as beneficial in many areas, such as virtual commissioning, fault prediction or reconfiguration planning. Equipping Digital Twins with artificial intelligence functionalities can greatly expand those beneficial applications or open up altogether new areas of application, among them cross-phase industrial transfer learning. In the context of machine learning, transfer learning represents a set of approaches that enhance learning new tasks based upon previously acquired knowledge. Here, knowledge is transferred from one lifecycle phase to another in order to reduce the amount of data or time needed to train a machine learning algorithm. Looking at common challenges in developing and deploying industrial machinery with deep learning functionalities, embracing this concept would offer several advantages: Using an intelligent Digital Twin, learning algorithms can be designed, configured and tested in the design phase before the physical system exists and real data can be collected. Once real data becomes available, the algorithms must merely be fine-tuned, significantly speeding up commissioning and reducing the probability of costly modifications. Furthermore, using the Digital Twin's simulation capabilities virtually injecting rare faults in order to train an algorithm's response or using reinforcement learning, e.g. to teach a robot, become practically feasible. This article presents several cross-phase industrial transfer learning use cases utilizing intelligent Digital Twins. A real cyber physical production system consisting of an automated welding machine and an automated guided vehicle equipped with a robot arm is used to illustrate the respective benefits.

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