Technology

Explaining the definition of digital twin and how it works

Key points

  • The definition of digital twin
  • How the technology works
  • Its main value proposition
By Carlos Miskinis
Digital twin research expert
Apr 2018

What exactly is digital twin technology?

 

To explain what Digital Twin means in simple words, it is a digital replica or a representation of a physical object (e.g. aircraft engine, person, vehicle) or an intangible system (e.g. marketing funnel, fulfillment process) that can be examined, altered and tested without interacting with it in the real world and avoiding negative consequences.

Think of it as an online platform for testing, creating and altering objects that are based in reality, without engaging with them in the real world itself. Technologies similar to this one have been used in various industries long before this concept was created, however, this new definition of the technology has much more potential, power, and scalability that can replicate, monitor and test virtually anything you can think of.

 

 

 

What does digital twin mean in business and why is it so beneficial?

 

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has complimented the adoption of this new technology, as IoT has resulted in its cost-effective implementation. Virtual twins have become imperative to business today, consistently named as a strategic technology trend in recent years. The complexity of technology has led to many questions within the industry. One of the most important ones is how is it changing the way design, planning, manufacturing, operation, simulation, and forecasting is traditionally functioning?

 

A physical twin that was replicated on a virtual platform is a near real-time digitized copy of a physical object. It is a bridge between the digital world and the physical world. Its core use is to optimize business performance, through the analysis of data and the monitoring of systems to prevent issues before they occur and prevent downtime. The simulations that are produced will help to develop and plan future opportunities and updates within the process or product. The benefits of virtual twin technology are astronomical, with industries such as agriculture, government, transportation and retail experiencing rewards from the technology and benefits going forward.

 
digital twin explained for dummies

 

Why use digital twin and how it works

 
Companies must find methods to prevent the risk of potential product defects among their assets and future products. This piece of tech allows production costs to be minimized, as companies will save expenses when products are right the first time. There is no need for expensive physical tests or updates to the products or process. Research with manufacturers has found that this concept will enable the reduction of development costs of the next generation of machines by well over 50%. The features of the tech also provide added confidence to boost product performance and aid complex decisions, preventing costly downtime to robotics and machinery.

 

Practical use case examples and infographics of digital twin

 
The core benefit of why most companies started twinning their processes, products, and services via simulations is due to their efficiency. Businesses are racing to market their product faster than their competition, and having the ability to virtually simulate scenarios where a product is tested for failure via multiple angles helps the situation immensely. Not mentioning the fact that the development and testing costs are usually reduced hundreds of times. This technology will be able to anticipate how the product and process will perform through digital simulations and analysis. The accessibility of reliable and consistently updated information provides the assurance needed to make faster decisions and increase the speed of production to overtake competitors.

 
Here is a use case infographic we have presented in our workshop about understanding virtual twins – find event information here. We can see how a virtual twin simulation is used to replicate and optimize machinery that regulates water flow in a factory. By doing this, developers can see every moving detail on the screen and then make the calculated decision to upgrade, optimize or make positive changes accordingly.

 

why use digital twin technology

 

Future impact of this technology for employers and businesses

 

Offices that adopt this technology early will attract innovative and leading talent. Offices will be able to incorporate interactive features to improve employee satisfaction and productivity using data-driven simulations. Employees who will use digital twin technology will be able to expand their engagement with online tools, such as interactive maps to locate colleagues on the floor, book meetings and complete tasks with more diligence and accuracy. Managers will also be able to supervise remotely with the tool that will be similar to a 3D map that will be created using virtual online platforms that are based on simulations. It is evident that the digital twin concept will benefit many people within the supply chain. Combining this disruptive concept with IoT technology is an incredible opportunity for businesses to improve. Ultimately, it will also allow stakeholders to improve the overall efficiency and cost of their business, and improve many aspects of work for employees.

Part 2

Examining the possibilities of digital twin in further detail

When the benefits are clear, applications are apparent. The single most important feature of this technology is the ability to eliminate failure conditions in the future.

Now that you’ve learned how the technology works, it is fairly easy to understand that the advantages of this concept are major. For instance, the biggest feature of it that is incredibly attractive to businesses and companies across the world is its ability to execute extremely cost-efficient tests and development operations, that would otherwise need to be done in the real world. However, development work often costs a lot of investment and capital because of the simple fact that it is done in reality, products are destroyed, new replicas have to be created, redone etc. Using simulations that are connected to the physical twin, this problem is completely avoided.

 

Challenge advisory is delighted to announce the launch of our digital twin workshop taking place in London, November 2019.

This workshop is designed to support the growth and adoption of digital twin technology within Healthcare, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, and Energy, by discussing its benefits and latest innovations along with the industry’s adopters and innovators. Created for Healthcare, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Energy sectors, Challenge Advisory is partnering with industry, government, and academia to push the agenda.

 

They will gather to debate the latest trends and developments for digital twin technology along with the key challenges facing future innovation and investment. So join the debate and network with key technology adopters, stakeholders, experimenters, market movers and everyone else involved in the value chain.

 

Learn more about our digital twins workshop here.

 

 

The first demo presentation revolves around using the technology to travel a distance without including time into the equation. The speaker shows how the physical twins (which are the windmills) are replicated, digitized and simulated on an online platform. This allows the presenter to interact with the virtual twins in real time and the visual representation of the object is incredibly accurate because it is backed up by live data that gets fed into the simulation platform. The way the company that has created this simulation is using it is specifically for equipment monitoring services. They are able to gauge the overall health of the windfarm remotely, without being forced to have staff operating 24/7 near the windmills. This has tremendous benefits from the perspective of the employer who has decided to take the initiative and implement this concept.

 

 

 

The second example involves digitizing physical equipment (such as a sports bike in this instance) in order to measure its durability, performance, and handling. The bicycle that is represented in the video does not have any hardware pre-installed in it and because of this, just like any other physical product or equipment in the markets today, it cannot be easily simulated or digitalized on a virtual platform. However, this issue is now solved by connecting the physical object to a virtual interface using sensors and pads that monitor its movement and functioning. With the help of Digital Twin software, a fully functioning virtual twin of the bike has been generated. Because of this, any movements that are experienced by the bike, are reflected on the online platform in real time. This has many benefits because by tracking and gathering data on the physical object virtually, the product’s developers can now improve it based on accurate data which tracks movement, wheel spinning speed, the turning capacity of the steering mechanism and tire air quantity.

 

By continuously getting this kind of data fed into the dashboard, the developers can accurately see how customers interact and experience the product and/or service a company provides for them. Moreover, this helps pinpoint the current or potential problems that hinder the positive customer experience and fix them either on the next version of the product (if the object is physical) or if it is a service, funnel or a SaaS, the necessary changes that are backed by data can be implemented right on the spot on the dashboard of the interface.

 

Part 3

Where is this disruptive technology trend heading to

Determining the future of this innovation

As the technology is still in the stages of development, it is continuously maturing and growing its capabilities. After networking and sharing knowledge with Digital Twin consultants that are helping business development companies all around the globe when it comes to implementing this concept into their business, we have learned that there are very few limitations to what this simulation creating software can do. Literally, anything can be replicated and digitized you can think of.

 

The boundaries that limited most companies across the globe prior to this innovation, was the simple fact that it was impossible to replicate physical non-connected products to a virtual interface and monitor them. This was only possible by creating the virtual models manually using 3-Dimensional modeling but now that the Digital Twin technology has hit the markets, developers can easily and accurately represent any physical object virtually by attaching special monitors that scan the item and do the model creation for them – this saves hours of time and makes everything 10 times more efficient.

 

Upcoming digital twin development features for 2019

 

The biggest and most excited development features that will be added to Digital Twin will be related to its accuracy and ease of use. In order to start the stage of mass adoption, the concept must be fairly affordable and easy to use for most businesses and entrepreneurs if the creators want to make their software a success. In terms of specific attributes and features that will be improved, it is expected that all of the focus is put into the real-time accuracy of the feedback. Meaning, that developers are working on making the digital replica of the physical twin react to the changes that are made to the object faster and with more accuracy.

 

Upcoming improvements for the virtual twin platform

 

What equipment is being used to digitise the physical twin?

 

The biggest advantage of the technology is that the equipment that is needed to successfully create a virtual replica of an item is fairly inexpensive and easy to use when you successfully go through the training that is needed in order to learn how to use the tools that are given to you successfully. The equipment involves having sensors, monitors, and trackers that vary in size, mode, and utility which will depend on what exactly you are trying to replicate. If, however, you believe that it is not productive for you to spend the time and effort to learn how to use this technology, you can find experienced Digital Twin consultants such as Challenge Advisory (visit – challenge.org) to help you on every single step you need to take to turn this idea into a reality for your business.

More information