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Digital Twin

The VDE|DKE Digital Twin project carries the developments of Industry 4.0 and digitalization into standardization. For example, conformity to standards can be pre-checked using the digital model of a real product – its digital twin. To this end, machine-readable standards will facilitate the early and cost-effective identification of conformity problems, reveal causes for revision at an early stage and save time during testing.


Johannes Stein


As part of the advancing digitalization of industry, products now increasingly have virtual versions of themselves that accompany them throughout their entire life cycle. This allows potential benefits such as predictive maintenance to be exploited during the utilization phase. Even during the development phase of a product, the engineering data can be checked continuously against simulation data based on expectations or experience from the real-time operating data of comparable products, as well as against the applicable standards and other regulations (e.g. ordinances).

Until now, the standards have not been machine-compatible, i.e. people must read them, understand them and enter them into development environments and (requirements) management systems. If the standards also have digital twins, the latest versions of these could be made directly available to the systems.

For this purpose, a format must be defined that reproduces all normative content, such as the requirements and recommendations, but also the significance of formulas and tables, precisely and unambiguously. Existing standards must be checked for their suitability for digital representation; new standards should now be created with machine comprehensibility taken into account. It is particularly important to support the intensification of interdisciplinary cooperation between IT experts, requirements managers and testing institutes.

Results to date

In a first step, DKE has developed the first part of the vision in cooperation with industry partners. It is involving a broad range of stakeholders – including (trade) visitors and experts from the fields of industry and politics – at prestigious events with the help of a demonstrator that is constantly being refined:

  • Hanover Fair 2016, 2017, 2018
  • CEBIT 2018 in Hanover
  • G20 Digital Ministers' Conference 2017 in Düsseldorf
  • IEC General Meeting 2016 in Frankfurt am Main
  • ISO General Assembly 2017 in Berlin
  • DKE Innovation Campus 2017 and 2018 in Hanau
  • VDE Tec Summit 2018 in Berlin

Following the collection of challenges and feedback from various stakeholders, the focus is now shifting to the preparation of the first machine-readable standard.

Recent developments

  • Existing standardization rules are being reviewed with regard to computational linguistics requirements, and any required adaptations are being addressed at the relevant points.
  • A checklist for formulating requirements in standards is being drawn up.
  • The demonstrator for the use of machine-readable standards with the aid of augmented reality is being refined.

Digital Twin: Our demonstrator at the Hanover Fair 2018

DKE has joined forces with Inosoft AG to develop a use case that demonstrates the functioning and advantages of the Digital Twin using the example of a virtual final inspection of an actual control cabinet. Using augmented reality, any deviations from standard requirements which arise during installation can be displayed directly. The video was made during the Hanover Fair 2018.