The Digital Twin is a virtual representation of a material or immaterial object of the real world that not necessarily exists, e.g. in the design phase of a machine. As the concept of Digital Twins is universal, it can thus be applied to almost everything: to machines, tools, processes, human capital, production, and quality KPI, and so on. The characteristics of this information are also various and cover all kinds of data sources, e.g., process data, master data, meta data, or ERP data. Algorithms and applications in general may help to enrich this information.

The Digital Twin is a set of virtual information constructs that fully describes the potential or actual physical product from micro atomic level to macro geometrical level. As its optimum, any information that could be obtained inspecting a physical manufactured product can be obtained from its Digital Twin.

Digital Twins are part of the supply chain throughout the entire lifecycle of products, machines, processes, or services and offer different value and advantages at each stage. Already applied in the design phase, the Digital Twin can handle complex product requirements or fast cycles of development and test different designs with specific simulations to make physical prototyping more and more redundant. This results in time and cost savings in the development of new products and optimizes aggregates and processes already in the design phase. Simulating functionalities and behavior with respect to every relevant aspect, lowers the degree of uncertainty. Since all functionalities can be simulated, commissioning is easier, and processes are error-free.

A Digital Twin offers the possibility of monitoring and reducing risks, which may lead, for example, to a rise in the overall availability of a machine or a process line. Robust prognoses regarding the properties, the quality, and the behavior of products and machines can be identified as well as replacement planning and investigations of upcycling potentials. The concept of the Digital Twin leads to a holistic view on products, machines, processes, and the entire supply chain in real-time. This makes communication between suppliers, producers, and customers easier since they share the same level of knowledge.

Benefits of a Digital Twin at a glance


All relevant plant, machine or product related information is gathered and visualized in a lean and easily understandable way. It is even possible to display real time process data in a 3D replication of the real object where they appear.


With the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence, critical aspects of processes, plant condition and availability, and product quality can be predicted and then adjusted to current circumstances.


Testing new products or production routines on the Digital Twin is less expensive and faster than real test campaigns. Process optimization and finetuning can be carried out while avoiding risks and production losses.


The ideal replication of the real machines and processes in the virtual world combined with a 3D visualization created directly out of the construction plans makes it easier and faster for new operators or service staff to learn everything about it – from simple maintenance tasks to complex process control.

One unified interface

The Digital Twin application mainly serves as a centralized and unified interface. This means that all applications of the SMS group, SMS digital, and its customers and also third-party apps are invited to connect to the twin to become part of it. The idea is to supply all the knowledge and results bundled in existing applications to the Digital Twin to enrich its data. This way, the Digital Twin keeps growing and becomes more and more reliable with the amount of applications connected to it. The fact that a Digital Twin instance is bound to a unique real object further simplifies the identification in the virtual world for external applications that tend to use their own ID to track objects.

Use cases

  • Digital Maintenance Twin

    In a usual plant, information is often spread over multiple, dedicated computer systems. Very often, each of the systems brings its own asset structure with proprietary keys and own user management.

    Especially for plants, that have been in operation for more than 10 years, documentation is often available only in paper form.
    Furthermore, systems are often spread over different work places or assigned to specific user groups that use them from a dedicated work place rather than having everything at hand right besides the equipment and in digital form.

    A digital twin of the plant or plant section – in terms of a data twin – can already be a powerful booster for information management, e.g. for predictive maintenance but not limited to that. With access to not only all kinds of engineering documents, such as drawings, manuals or P&IDs but also to data from maintenance systems (CMMS), condition monitoring system, process automation (e.g. via SMS DataFactory), planning systems (MES), quality systems etc., all information that supports deeper insights on the actual equipment status and wear, on already conducted maintenance activities, the equipment load (e.g. amount of production) help to better plan maintenance and learn about the equipment’s performance capabilities.

    The preferred way to access all the distributed systems for the required data is via a web application that caters for the secure connections to the distributed systems and fetches the information right from there without the need of another database with duplicated data. By means of a 3D navigation model, usually created from the design models during engineering, the user can quickly find the equipment without the need to know about the equipment numbers or to map different keys prior to getting to the data.

    Every minute that can be saved through the direct access to information via the digital twin can be invested in valuable other activities.

    The modular concept of the digital (maintenance) twin allows for later extensions that for instance include modelling and simulation capabilities.


    • Have all information in one place – of all connected systems
    • Rapid access to information – single sign on
    • Immediate information on asset health – e.g. from Condition Monitoring
    • Know the maintenance history, see the reports
    • See suspicious equipment at once
    • Notice accumulating maintenance efforts – see the roots of the problems
    • Create work orders – take action
    • Scalable – add more systems any time, any kind
    • Modular – start small, grow as per needs
    • Cloud based or on premise
    • On PC and handheld
  • HD Connect

    HD LASr is a perfect tool to measure and align segments, molds or even the strand. But the generated data offers much more potential to add value for the user. Since the HD LASr data is saved locally on the device, it is not always available and the data of multiple HD LASr instances cannot be accessed together at the same time.

    HD Conncect offers the possibility to save the data of multiple HD LASr instances at one place and make it available from everywhere at any time. This offers a unified overview and statistics for the measurements and makes it accessible for other applications. Additionally, the data can be combined with process data via files or other APIs. With process data HD Conncect offers roller tracking for segment and mold rollers, copperplate tracking for mold copperplates and copperplate life forecast for molds. 


    • Have all HD LASr measurements at one place
    • Makes HD LASr data available for other applications
    • Statistics for HD LASr
    • HD LASr data can be combined with process data to get more value from the data
  • Digital Interconnectivity Twin

    Many steel producing plants have already been (partly) digitalized and make use of various systems to optimize production planning or maintenance, increase product quality and monitor consumptions.

    That motley crew of systems though, often acquired over several years from many sources, does not follow common standards in terms of data storage, data exchange or user guidance and usually requires human supervision, human decision taking and coordination of actions to steer plant operation and meet the goals of productivity and quality.

    Moreover, many of these systems are dedicated to a single purpose without taking into account the interdependencies of individual actions they trigger and that seem logical and mandatory from a single system’s perspective.

    A maintenance management system for instance does not automatically cross-check with production planning for when to best perform maintenance tasks. Usually, those decisions require human interaction of the involved departments.

    And production planning might plan for best utilization of production units to fulfill customer orders in time but does it take into account changing energy costs or wear rate of equipment?

    Condition monitoring of equipment though is a state-of-the-art technique to avoid costly and unexpectd break downs and to increase net availability of the equipment. However, it is usuallly not interlinked with production planning or maintenance management nor does it contribute to e.g. coil grading.

    Only the inclusion of all affected areas into automatic, interlinked decision making does allow for targeted actions that yield maximum performance of the plant.

    The Digital Interconnectivity Twin is the SMS digital’s software solution for combining the individual software systems’ advantages into an even greater, holistic gain.


    • Inter-connect all systems of the areas of production planning, asset optimization, product quality and energy management in one place to get the complete picture of the current plant performance
    • Make use of already aggregated and enriched information of those systems at a higher level of abstraction
    • Apply rules according to the current overall plant status for applying suitable actions in the affected areas with respect to interdependencies
    • Maintain and develop the rulebase over time according to the growing knowledge and experience in plant operation
    • Increase efficiency, productivity, quality, uptime
    • Decrease maintenance costs, unplanned downtimes, energy and utilities costs
  • Caster App Suite

    In the casting process, product quality is determined by various casting parameters. One of those is the condition and positioning of the strand guide segments. With the help of the Roll Gap Checker measurement, the current alignment status of the strand guide in a continuous casting line is determined. Misalignments of the segments as well as the segment rolls can be visualized and be evaluated.

    Furthermore the Alignment Manager, a module of the Caster App Suite, calculates the resulting strain on the strand shell based on the following factors:

    • Misalignment of the segments/rollers within the strand guide (measurement data coming from RGC)
    • Impact of bulging (based on specific casting conditions)
    • Impact of the bending and straightening zone

    In addition, the calculated strand shell strain can be compared in the Caster App Suite with the maximum permissible critical strain for a special strain group (depending on the material properties) and casting parameters.


    • Consistent product quality by recording the plant alignment condition and quality influencing factors
    • Presentation of the main factors influencing product quality as a basis to support countermeasures for defect reduction/elimination
    • Reduction of downgrading rate caused by process deviations
    • Prediction of product quality based on current caster (segment) condition
    • Simulation and testing for product developments
  • Plug & Work

    With every SMS project – both new plants and modernizations – we install, test, and optimize the new automation system of the customer's specific plant fully in one of our test fields located around the world. These locations are where we train the customer's operating personnel under very realistic conditions with real-time process simulation that fully depicts the interaction of the plant components. The digital twin shortens the time required for commissioning by up to 30 percent.

    Plug & work test
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