Model-based Definitions and Digital Masters

Ever since the introduction of the first 3D CAD systems, development departments have been pursuing the idea of replacing paper-based documentation with an entirely digital product description. Thanks to powerful visualization tools, geometric models are today also available in digital form outside of the development and engineering departments and can be used to optimize other business processes when embedded in 3D PDF documents. When product data is transferred to the work preparation department, however, paper drawings are often still being used.

The 3D master model provides the basis for end-to-end drawingless processes but confines itself to the geometrical and mechanical dimensions of a product. In the meantime, however, products that were primarily mechanical in nature now include an increasing number of software-controlled functions. They are perceived as being part of a system and must be developed as such.

The production process is also undergoing a profound transformation brought about by Industry 4.0. Flexible production systems respond dynamically to external influences and control production quality autonomously. To do this, all the product parameters relevant to production must be available in digital form.

What is a Digital Master?

What benefits can it be expected to offer?

The concept of a digital master takes the idea of a 3D master and develops it further, taking account of the new development and production requirements. A digital master is a complete, digital product model comprising all available product information. In addition to geometric and mechanical properties, this includes electrical components, embedded software, material properties relevant to production, process information for production and commercial information from the ERP system. The composition of the digital master changes according to the information relevant at any given point in time throughout the product lifecycle.

The digital master provides the basis for the digital twin and supplies all the processes with the information they need. While the digital master represents the complete, digital description of a concrete product, the digital twin includes other information that is relevant for simulation, production and service. Purchasing processes, technical documentation, audit and approval processes, as well as the marketing department, can use the digital master as the main product model. The challenge for companies is identifying the business processes that will allow digital masters and digital twins to deliver their greatest potential benefit.

The 3D master model provides the foundation for drawingless processes and is a first step on the road to an entirely digital product model, the Digital Master.
Alain Pfouga, General Manager , PROSTEP iVIP