Mercedes-Benz works with NVIDIA to create digital twins of its factories

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Mercedes-Benz is partnering with NVIDIA to create three-dimensional digital twins of its factories, in a bid to gain better visibility into its factory operations and optimize production layouts.

The automaker’s plan is to use NVIDIA’s Omniverse software to create virtual replicas of its physical plants, using the digital twins to design and plan manufacturing and assembly facilities more intelligently, said Danny Shapiro, head of the automotive unit. from NVIDIA.

At CES 2023, Mercedes said it is preparing to use the Omniverse platform to help upgrade its plant outside Stuttgart, Germany, where the intention is to eventually start production of a new platform for electric vehicles.

The site is currently used to produce a wide range of compact car models. Working with NVIDIA, Mercedes aims to formulate a “digital first” planning process for the site that does not disrupt its existing manufacturing.

Omniverse is NVIDIA’s open 3D development platform that can be used to create physically accurate digital twins of everything from factories to infrastructure to retail stores. It is a pillar of the company’s plans to become a more powerful player in the software market.

This isn’t the first time Mercedes has invested in NVIDIA’s hardware and software offerings. The automaker has said that it plans to use NVIDIA’s Drive Orin SoC to control autonomous driving features in vehicles coming to market in 2024. On top of that, the company is applying NVIDIA’s Drive Sim software on Omniverse to test and validate autonomous driving. software security features before implementing them in vehicles.

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Now, Mercedes is expanding the use of Omniverse into its manufacturing plants, where it builds vehicles that require thousands of chips and other parts, all painstakingly assembled by thousands of workers moving in sync.

Benefits of digital twins

Creating a digital twin of an entire factory involves modeling every facet of the facility, from the physical vehicles that go through assembly to the robots and other machinery to the workers on the factory floor, Shapiro said. For Mercedes, the digital twin it is building with NVIDIA will help streamline the layout of its production facilities should it be necessary to change components due to supply disruptions or add (or remove) features to its vehicles.

When car manufacturers want to launch a new vehicle model, they must update the design of their factories to take the new product design into account. This involves taking significant portions of the facility out of the loop, which can affect production of existing vehicles. Omniverse will give the automaker the ability to virtually test and validate new factory designs without having to disrupt its existing operations, NVIDIA said.

With Omniverse, each proposed change in the automaker’s factories can be evaluated on the digital twin and then tested and validated in the virtual world before being implemented at the physical facility.

NVIDIA is conquering an increasing number of companies in areas ranging from retail, logistics, automotive and manufacturing to Omniverse. But whether these companies are worth continuing to use Omniverse depends on their ability to create digital twins that accurately mimic their counterparts in the physical world.

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To this end, the US chip giant introduced a new hardware offering last year called OVX that is designed specifically for customers hoping to create lifelike digital replicas of their operations and product designs in Omniverse.

NVIDIA said it expects Mercedes to roll out Omniverse-powered digital twins to its other factories over time.

Take a look at more of our CES 2023 coverage.

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