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What is Digital Twin Technology?

The term digital twin may sound contemporary, but it’s a way to visualize structures in ways which was never possible earlier. Digital twin technology is one of the fastest growing concepts of Industry 4.0.

Introduction

In the simplest terms, a digital twin is a virtual replica of a real-world object that is run in a simulation environment to test its performance and efficacy. Digital twin platforms bring together most sophisticated technologies with enormous potential to transform the way businesses operate. The term digital twin was first coined by Dr. Michael Grieves because it takes into account all the dynamics of the physical object’s operations from real world in virtual world.

What is a Digital Twin?

In simple words, a digital twin is a replica of a physical product, process, or service which copies the behavior through various IoT devices. A digital twin is not an incoherent form of some object. Rather, it is as real as the physical object. Digital Twin technology bridges this gap between physical world and its virtual twin.

Digital twin has been around since 2002, but it started gaining lot of popularity in past few years in the IoT community. Today, it has become very common because of its immense success in variety of industries. One of the important reasons behind its acceptance is due to availability and affordability of IoT devices.

A digital twin comprises of the following:a physical entity that generates real-time data from its operations

  • a collection of sensors that gather real-time data from the physical entity
  • a connection between physical entity to the virtual model for live data streaming
  • a virtual 3D model of the physical entity
  • a mechanism to reflect behavior of physical entity to virtual object through live data streaming

Digital twins do not substitute a physical entity or process within an organization. On the contrary, through digital twin, the physical entity becomes more accessible, manageable and controllable. Data obtained from sensors makes the virtual model to act exactly like the real object. This makes it possible to monitor important parts of the object and predict the unexpected breakdowns. Organizations can take the advantage of digital twin technology to have better control on their processes instead of making any kind of assumptions. It can help organizations to use these insights to take more informed decisions.

The pairing of physical and virtual worlds gives analysis of data and monitoring of systems before the problems actually occur. This helps in developing new opportunities and even plan for the future by using simulations. The information obtained from digital twins can be useful for various stakeholders to take important decisions for the company including preventing downtime. The numerical and/or visual information may be of interest to designers, architects, supervisors and engineers to model and gauge the physical entities for their response to a situation. The technology has been found to be used in a wide range of industries. Some of the prominent industries are as shown in figure below.

Benefits of Digital Twin Technology

There are various ways in which the information obtained from physical world can lead to important insights to improve its efficiency. Advancement of technology and existence of the Internet of Things around the world has brought numerous advantages. Some of the important benefits of digital twins are as follows:

  • Detect problems in real-time system and generate early warning
  • Timely maintain and repair systems without waiting for total breakdown
  • Do predictive analysis on complex operations and activities
  • Improve performance of systems
  • Enable remote monitoring of the systems
  • Frequent risk assessment
  • Accelerate production time
  • Examine system’s performance in various scenarios
  • Enhance reliability of production line
  • Schedule predictive maintenance
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Better managerial decisions

By understanding the value of digital twins in business, organizations can implement the technology in the view to reduce wastages, manage resources and optimize cost involved in day-to-day operations. From facility management to workflows analysis, and from autonomous testing to monitoring, adoption of digital twin technology gives more control to organizations over their processes. Hence, leveraging this technology, the organization’s decisions can be more data driven.

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