The digital lifecycle (type) in engineering and the physical lifetime (instance) of a product during its manufacture and use, and the manufacturing system in terms of hardware, software, processes, value-added chains, and business models can be mapped and processed by means of suitable mechanisms.
The type identifies an instantiable component with clearly defined properties, e.g., the developed product in digital form. The instance represents a concrete, clearly identifiable component of a certain type: the produced device. The lifetime comprises the time period from the end of product manufacture to the end of disposal. Systems that consist of dynamically changing subsystems and that interact with other systems can be managed based on the digital evaluation of this information.
The problem can be explained by way of an example. The manufacturer of a valve with integrated sensors uses components, procedures, and manufacturing steps from other manufacturers and combines these with his own value creation concept in the field of engineering and production. Standards and customer-specific requirements are also included in the process.
The result is a digitally described product type in version 1.0, which, among other things, contains a version 3.1 micro-controller from a chip producer. Extended with the service software of a third-party provider in version 10.0, a machine builder installs the valve in a system. The machine builder defines the product features applicable to his engineering process as a usage profile for this valve type. The user may then create a usage profile that differs from the product and machine manufacturer.
If the producer of the micro-controller replaces version 3.1 with version 4.0, the valve manufacturer has to redesign his device. He then offers it in version 1.1. with compatible properties in terms of form and function as well as functional enhancements. The machine builder then reconciles this with his compatibility profile to ensure the further use of the valve and uses the additional functions provided by a service software update to version 10.1.
When replacing a defective valve the machine operator can use both version 1.0 and 1.1. A comparison with the operator's own compatibility profile must also be made. The result can then range from the impact-free use of the new valve version, to the reconstruction of the system and a software update, right through to the setting aside of version 1.0 in order to cover the lifecycle of the system. The implementation of such a process in agile Industrie 4.0 systems requires a consistent digital description of requirements.
With digitization on the rise, the above process will develop in such a way that complexity will increase exponentially and will only be manageable with the explicit integration of lifecycle models into the systems used.
Standardization will increase with the implementation of an agile lifecycle approach wherever products change dynamically in relation to their supply chains, software versions, and function extensions. This will make products more manageable during production and throughout their service life. The above lifecycle elements provide investment security for both manufacturers and users.