The digital twin is a key technology for optimizing production processes and components and increasing the cost-effectiveness of production. Complex and computationally intensive simulation models are used to generate a complete digital twin, which makes it very difficult to use in industrial practice.
With the “QUASIM” research project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen and its consortium partners are pursuing the goal of accelerating production simulations using different algorithms and technologies of efficient quantum computing and thereby removing hurdles for industrial use.
High-performance machining is an important technology for the production of high-tech components in industries such as engine construction, the semiconductor industry and medical technology. Despite the high efficiency of modern machining processes, the product costs often amount to several thousand to hundreds of thousands of euros, depending on the component. A significant proportion of these costs arise from time-consuming and cost-intensive production start-ups as well as from quality defects and rejects during ongoing production. Process design, optimization and monitoring based on a digital twin is therefore becoming increasingly important. Digital twins are virtual, data-based representations of the components and the manufacturing environment. The creation of a complete digital twin requires the use of sophisticated numerical simulation models and machine learning algorithms. Although the models precisely depict the manufacturing process and its effects on the component, their execution is so computationally intensive that real application in industry is still a long way off. Many companies lack a correspondingly powerful digital infrastructure.
Quantum computing accelerates the creation of digital twins
The research project “QUASIM – Quantum Computing Enhanced Service Ecosystem for Simulation in Manufacturing” is the first to connect quantum computing (QC) and the metalworking industry: the aim of the project partners is to develop and test solutions for quantum computing in manufacturing, for example for machining processes. You would like to find out to what extent QC support can accelerate the creation of a digital twin in machining and thus improve the quality of the results.
Computation of complex models on quantum computing hardware
The Fraunhofer IPT has developed extensive expertise on the subject of “digital twins”, which is also reflected in dPart, a framework developed at the Fraunhofer IPT for the digital twin in machining. The framework is constantly being expanded in the course of numerous research and development projects and will also be used in the QUASIM project. Complex models and algorithms from numerics and machine learning are used to create the digital twins, with which forces and process vibrations can be dynamically simulated and visualized, for example.
To speed up the complex calculations, the dPart software platform is being expanded to include a so-called “Quantum-as-a-Service” (QaaS) component: For critical simulations, the dPart framework accesses a QaaS back-end to increase computational efficiency. The project partners can use real QC hardware for their research work: both the QC infrastructure that has just been put into operation at Forschungszentrum Jülich and the “IBM Q System One” of the “Quantum Computing Baden-Württemberg” competence center. The QaaS-supported software for creating the digital twin is transferred to industrial practice and tested there. A transfer of the results in the form of know-how licensing is then planned.
The “QUASIM” research project is funded as part of the “Quantum Computing – Applications for the Economy” funding program, a program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). The program is designed to promote research, development and innovation projects that demonstrate and demonstrate the technical feasibility, viability and usefulness of quantum computing using relevant, practical applications. The duration of the project is 36 months.
Further information on the »QUASIM« project can be found here.