Welcome to Smart Agriculture

Smart Agriculture ›› 2023, Vol. 5 ›› Issue (2): 149-160.doi: 10.12133/j.smartag.SA202305007

• Overview Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Digital Twin for Agricultural Machinery: From Concept to Application

GUO Dafang1,2(), DU Yuefeng1,2(), WU Xiuheng1,2, HOU Siyu1,2, LI Xiaoyu1,2, ZHANG Yan'an1,2, CHEN Du1,2   

  1. 1.College of Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
    2.Beijing Key Laboratory of Optimized Design for Modern Agricultural Equipment, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2023-05-07 Online:2023-06-30
  • corresponding author: DU Yuefeng, E-mail:dyf@cau.edu.cn
  • About author:GUO Dafang, E-mail:dafang.guo@cau.edu.cn
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China (52175258); Modern Agricultural Equipment Design and Intelligent Manufacturing Innovation Platform (2021XDRHXMPT29)

Abstract:

Significance Agricultural machinery serves as the fundamental support for implementing advanced agricultural production concepts. The key challenge for the future development of smart agriculture lies in how to enhance the design, manufacturing, operation, and maintenance of these machines to fully leverage their capabilities. To address this, the concept of the digital twin has emerged as an innovative approach that integrates various information technologies and facilitates the integration of virtual and real-world interactions. By providing a deeper understanding of agricultural machinery and its operational processes, the digital twin offers solutions to the complexity encountered throughout the entire lifecycle, from design to recycling. Consequently, it contributes to an all-encompassing enhancement of the quality of agricultural machinery operations, enabling them to better meet the demands of agricultural production. Nevertheless, despite its significant potential, the adoption of the digital twin for agricultural machinery is still at an early stage, lacking the necessary theoretical guidance and methodological frameworks to inform its practical implementation. Progress Drawing upon the successful experiences of the author's team in the digital twin for agricultural machinery, this paper presents an overview of the research progress made in digital twin. It covers three main areas: The digital twin in a general sense, the digital twin in agriculture, and the digital twin for agricultural machinery. The digital twin is conceptualized as an abstract notion that combines model-based system engineering and cyber-physical systems, facilitating the integration of virtual and real-world environments. This paper elucidates the relevant concepts and implications of digital twin in the context of agricultural machinery. It points out that the digital twin for agricultural machinery aims to leverage advanced information technology to create virtual models that accurately describe agricultural machinery and its operational processes. These virtual models act as a carrier, driven by data, to facilitate interaction and integration between physical agricultural machinery and their digital counterparts, consequently yielding enhanced value. Additionally, it proposes a comprehensive framework comprising five key components: Physical entities, virtual models, data and connectivity, system services, and business applications. Each component's functions operational mechanism, and organizational structure are elucidated. The development of the digital twin for agricultural machinery is still in its conceptual phase, and it will require substantial time and effort to gradually enhance its capabilities. In order to advance further research and application of the digital twin in this domain, this paper integrates relevant theories and practical experiences to propose an implementation plan for the digital twin for agricultural machinery. The macroscopic development process encompasses three stages: Theoretical exploration, practical application, and summarization. The specific implementation process entails four key steps: Intelligent upgrading of agricultural machinery, establishment of information exchange channels, construction of virtual models, and development of digital twin business applications. The implementation of digital twin for agricultural machinery comprises four stages: Pre-research, planning, implementation, and evaluation. The digital twin serves as a crucial link and bridge between agricultural machinery and the smart agriculture. It not only facilitates the design and manufacturing of agricultural machinery, aligning them with the realities of agricultural production and supporting the advancement of advanced manufacturing capabilities, but also enhances the operation, maintenance, and management of agricultural production to better meet practical requirements. This, in turn, expedites the practical implementation of smart agriculture. To fully showcase the value of the digital twin for agricultural machinery, this paper addresses the existing challenges in the design, manufacturing, operation, and management of agricultural machinery. It expounds the methods by which the digital twin can address these challenges and provides a technical roadmap for empowering the design, manufacturing, operation, and management of agricultural machinery through the use of the digital twin. In tackling the critical issue of leveraging the digital twin to enhance the operational quality of agricultural machinery, this paper presents two research cases focusing on high-powered tractors and large combine harvesters. These cases validate the feasibility of the digital twin in improving the quality of plowing operations for high-powered tractors and the quality of grain harvesting for large combine harvesters. Conclusions and Prospects This paper serves as a reference for the development of research on digital twin for agricultural machinery, laying a theoretical foundation for empowering smart agriculture and intelligent equipment with the digital twin. The digital twin provides a new approach for the transformation and upgrade of agricultural machinery, offering a new path for enhancing the level of agricultural mechanization and presenting new ideas for realizing smart agriculture. However, existing digital twin for agricultural machinery is still in its early stages, and there are a series of issues that need to be explored. It is necessary to involve more professionals from relevant fields to advance the research in this area.

Key words: agricultural machinery, digital twin, information technology, virtual simulation, smart agriculture

CLC Number: