Digital Twins Are No Longer an Interesting Concept for John Deere, They Are Essential to Optimizing Facilities

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By Michael Larner | 2Q 2023 | IN-6894

John Deere’s work with Matterport demonstrates that collecting imagery and geometry for creating digital twins is the tip of the iceberg. Companies must invest resources in providing context to images and while those processes take place build enthusiasm around the potential for the digital twin to improve everyday workflows.

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John Deere Is Developing Digital Replicas of Its Facilities


Matterport, Inc.’s digital twin platform and Three-Dimensional (3D) capture technology is being used by agricultural and heavy equipment manufacturer John Deere to support the company’s digital twin ambitions. John Deere is creating digital replicas of its manufacturing facilities so that users can collaborate regardless of location and, by performing simulations, prepare for changes to sites’ layout.

The initiative is evidence that manufacturers’ plans for digital twins are becoming more ambitious, evolving from digital replicas of equipment or production lines to entire networks of facilities. However, it is a painstaking process to collect and contextualize the imagery and geometry.

Tagging Images Is the Critical Process


Imagery and geometry from the factories will be collected via Matterport’s Pro3 cameras that capture images to 4k resolution and point cloud data. The cameras capture not only the facility layout, but also images, fixed and mobile assets, and inventory items. John Deere reports that it takes an hour for the cameras to collect images from a 10,000 square-foot facility.

Key users of the imagery and geometry include facility managers & engineers, facility layout owners, manufacturing engineers, maintenance and process flow engineers, and security teams. Interest in the initiative is growing at John Deere with the first benefits being a reduced need for costly site visits, while also encouraging collaboration among cross-functional teams.

As with many digital transformation projects, users need to invest time in ensuring the data are correct and comparable to be beneficial to the firm going forward. Once these steps are completed, there will be numerous opportunities to interrogate the images and, in the future, perform dynamic scenario planning via the digital twin platform.

Digital Twins Become Part of Business as Normal


John Deere’s ultimate goal is for digital twin users to perform scenario planning using real-time data. To realize this ambition, the imagery and geometry collected via Matterport and the connectivity between the physical and virtual environments need to be seamless.

To scale the digital twin initiative, project leads must increase the number of enthusiasts quickly. The user base is growing with many having a better understanding of colleagues’ environments, having never previously been able to visualize other facilities; building the business case for funding the initiative and data collection from additional facilities.

In the future, using digital twins of facilities will become business as normal for staff at John Deere. With advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), users will be able to optimize operations to orchestrate the movement of people and assets against defined objectives, such as eliminating bottlenecks or risks to safety.

For Matterport, John Deere provides an important proof point for its technology to support manufacturers, in addition to the construction, architectural, and real estate firms with which the company works.



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