Metrology – the science of measurement – focuses on accurate, precise, and reliable measurements and is therefore the base for science, quality inspection, trade and many other needs of modern industrial society. The European Union recognised the importance of metrology by launching in 2021 the third metrology research programme the European Partnership on Metrology. Within this partnership a joint research project Trustworthy virtual experiments and digital twins (ViDiT) started in May 2023. The ViDiT project aims to develop methods and procedures to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of virtual experiments and digital twins to support the Europe's digital transformation.
Virtual experiments and digital twins are key enabling technologies to achieve and realise European strategic policies devoted to sustainability and digitalisation within the complex framework of Industry 4.0 and the European Green Deal. Virtual experiments and digital twins are both simulation models that accurately replicate physical systems and characteristics in a virtual environment. Digital twins further include dynamic updates of the virtual model according to the observed state of its real counterpart. Hence, they consist of two parts, a Physical‑to‑Virtual connection that models the considered system and a Virtual‑to‑Physical connection that implements prevention and control strategies to achieve the target accuracy in the physical system.
The use of virtual experiments and digital twins in metrological applications (e.g. coordinate measuring machines, tilted wave interferometer, flow measurement, nanoindentation, 3D robotic measurement, electrical measurement) requires uncertainty evaluation methods, as well as reliable validation procedures, to make them fit, e.g. as substitutes or extensions, to certified measurement devices. The ViDiT project will develop these methods and procedures to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of virtual experiments and digital twins in metrology. In addition, this will enable the traceability of modern measurement systems and it will boost and strengthen the European lead in this field. To facilitate the uptake of the developed methods, by National Metrology Institutes and industrial stakeholders, three good practice guides will be written, and the applicability of the methods will be demonstrated in twelve case studies covering the aforementioned industrial metrology applications.
In the project, VTT MIKES will use its strong expertise in tactile and optical coordinate metrology as well as its skills in robotics, manufacturing technology, and lifetime evaluation based on fatigue analysis using FEM and geometry data to develop and validate digital twins useful for end users, especially:
- a digital twin of a large volume welded part measured with a robotic 3D scanning system to monitor and guarantee the acceptable lifetime of the welded part. Preliminary life cycle assessments of the part will be carried out to estimate the lifetime and to evaluate the potential environmental impacts throughout its entire life cycle.