A digital twin is a near real time digital copy image of a physical object or a process that is used to optimize business performance. It can be defined as a virtual representation or a digital profile that is undergoing a process of evolution fed by data from the historical and present behavior. The constantly evolving profile uses an array of measurements providing key insights on overall performance which could serve as inputs to change a part of the process or design in the physical world. Its been predicted that more than 80 percent of all IoT platforms will have some form of digital twin functionality within the next five years.
The premise behind the concept is that each system has two components the physical system that always has existed and a new virtual system that includes all information on the physical system. This implies that there is a mirroring, or twinning, of systems between what existed in real space to what existed in virtual space and vice versa.
Until recently, storage costs, bandwidth, and processing power restricted the use of digital twins for enterprises. With the Internet of Things, the digital twin now is much more cost-effective to implement, and the concept is rapidly becoming an imperative in order to gain a competitive advantage and to improve operational efficiency.
Model complex environments and assets
Digital twins can be created in a range of ways to serve varied end uses. They can be used to model complex assets and processes to predict the outcome of a diversity of interactions spread across the entire product cycle. For instance, digital twins can simulate assets such as rocket engines and oil rigs to monitor wear and tear, as well as the impact of varying degrees of stress on various parts. Such inputs can be used for designing better assets in the future.
In smart factories, real-time decisions can be made using digital twins. Twins, in such cases, will develop intelligence that will feed advancements in the future. Machine data collected over a period of time can enable digital prototypes to help human operators make better decisions. Twins also can generate production data in real time to reflect the current status of their physical counterparts. which then could be shared with technicians or other interested groups remotely. Virtual representations eventually will be able to predict faults and errors and help avoid costly implications.
Digital twins represent a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. They can generate value for businesses in the form of lesser maintenance costs, new revenue streams, and better management of assets. As technology improves and virtualization options become more pronounced, businesses will be able to deploy digital twins with even less capital investment while deriving greater returns on investments (ROI) in a shorter time period.
Building a Digital Twin Strategy: Points to Remember
- Focus on measurement: Develop KPIs to measure the progress of various initiatives and ROI realization
- Keep it simple: Avoid building complex twins that do not offer the kind of insights that are essential to run your business.
- Readiness assessment: How mature is your IoT deployment? Is it ready to embrace twinning? What could be the starting point?
- Stay focused on core objectives: Learn how twinning will benefit your business before investing
- Your twinning strategy should ultimately be primed towards generating value and tangible ROI.
Five Benefits of Twinning
- Extend the life of assets and equipment
- Uncover operational inefficiencies
- Help deploy preventive maintenance, reduce maintenance costs
- Enable better response to episodes of downtime
- Improve situational awareness