Go back

Why automation needs digital twins

Image of a woman looking at her virtualized self.

Whether in relation to components, machinery or complete production processes, these days digital twins play an important role in product lifecycles. As digital replicas of products or processes, they depict their properties, status and behavior and hence connect the real world with a virtual one. As such, they ensure reliable processes throughout the development stage, commissioning and operations and can be used for optimization purposes and to improve quality and increase efficiency. The potential that digital twins possess can also be leveraged for ctrlX AUTOMATION.

Digital twins usually depict various different aspects, e.g. they often combine simulation models with data. Firstly, they can be used to provide a virtual mock-up of products, machinery or plants for simulation purposes. Secondly, they can be used to clearly visualize real-life procedures and processes and hence better understand them as well as test and optimize them virtually and automatically – without having to intervene in reality.

Digital twins can not only improve development and production processes thanks to prognoses but can also improve understanding, contribute to transparency and enhance the performance of the real-life operations of systems or plants. Digital twins make product development simpler, more reliable and more efficient. In addition to the optimization of product features by means of simulation processes, the interplay between hardware and software can, for example, also be tested virtually early on and any errors can be identified and rectified prior to commissioning with zero risks involved. Engineering or production processes can therefore be made more efficient – benefiting not only component and machine manufacturers but end users too.

The so-called asset administration shell (AAS) is becoming the standard for the implementation of digital twins in Industry 4.0 systems and has been standardized in IEC63278. Accordingly, each I4.0 component is represented by an AAS, which forms an information shell for an asset or a hierarchy of assets. It describes all contained sub-models, which depict aspects such as sensor data or positioning mode, as well as available functions. In production, the AAS is used to ensure interoperability and IT security in manufacturing and IT systems by means of a set of standardized interfaces, such as OPC UA, TSN, DetNet, REST, JSON and XML, etc. Bosch Rexroth also aligns itself with this industry standard for the implementation of digital twins, thus continuing the pursuit of its strategy of openness.

Replicating and testing Bosch Rexroth products virtually

ctrlX AUTOMATION provides users with various different ways of using digital twins. Firstly, all sorts of different virtual replicas of Bosch Rexroth’s automation products can be created. Secondly, corresponding partner apps from the ctrlX World can be used for various digital twin applications.

One or more virtual controls can be created on a PC with the software and engineering toolbox ctrlX WORKS and operated via a web-based interface. ctrlX COREvirtual is the virtual version of the real-life control and is based on identical software. The virtual replica can be used to conduct tests and carry out commissioning without any control hardware – with full functionality. The simulation model is, for example, used to test PLC and motion programs. It is also used for communications tests between a control and the I/O level of a system.

Digital twins can also be used to virtually commission, parameterize and optimize products from Bosch Rexroth’s drive and motor range, including as part of considerations concerning mechatronic systems or complete machines. This also applies for the most compact drive system on the market, ctrlX DRIVE. Drive models are available to users for different application scenarios and various simulation systems available on the market, for example for MATLAB/Simulink, Modelica-based systems and ISG Virtuos.

Scalable simulation solutions for different use cases

In addition to the digital twins of ctrlX AUTOMATION products, the openness and expandability of the system offer a wealth of further possibilities. As such, IoT functionalities can, for example, be implemented for acquiring data and thus for generating digital twins of complete production processes. Users can use Bosch Rexroth’s IoT apps or those of partners from the ctrlX World for this. They can even develop their own apps with the Software Development Kit.

Bosch Rexroth offers scalable simulation solutions to suit any requirements through which simulations can be carried out for peripherals, kinematics, dynamics and physics in various topologies. The solutions thus enable an extremely broad range of applications, from kinematic simulation with 3D geometries right through to the connection of high-level simulation systems.

Digital twins are much more than visual reproductions of reality and accompany products as digital shadows all the way through to operations and service. Digital twins are, for example, ideal in mechanical and plant engineering for the real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance of machinery and plants. Digital information can be seamlessly orchestrated in real time.

The possible applications are therefore practically endless. Bosch Rexroth customers therefore have numerous options for easily optimizing processes, improving the quality of their products and achieving safety through transparency – right from the development stage all the way through to ongoing operations.


If you have any questions or require further information regarding ctrlX AUTOMATION, please contact us:

Get in contact

Portrait view of Karsten Kreusch, Game Changer ctrlX WORKS

Karsten Kreusch

Game Changer



The future of industrial automation

Learn more about the other challenges of automation, the future requirements and take a look at the control technology of the future in our whitepaper.

Get your free whitepaper!

Go back