Demystifying the Role of Digital Twins in Aerospace

By Matanat Rashid

Wed, 3 Oct 2018

Digital Twins continue to cement its place as the most fascinating IoT trend of the year.

While there is no shortage of definitions of the digital twin, it could simply be defined as a highly complex virtual model that is the exact counterpart (or twin) of a physical thing. The advent of digital twins offers engineers a technological leap by allowing them an accurate monitoring of a product, production process or performance of a product. The idea of the digital twin may sound intriguing but achieving a thoroughly functional digital twin would be strenuous. However, it would be imperative for industries like aerospace to instantly grasp its technicalities as it will play a massive role in enabling future operating models, revenue streams and relationships.

As per Business Wire’s survey report, 75 percent of aerospace executives have cast the vote of confidence in favour of the digital twin already. Almost invariably, all these executives are overwhelmed by the amount of available data from products and services, and they feel that the digital twin would be the stepping-stone in overcoming these challenges. Additionally, all these executives are utilising and evaluating the prowess of this technology. Most of them are exploiting this technology for both existing and new products and services, while others are employing it for new products and services only.

A fully functional digital twin offers comprehensive predictive analytics. For example, an aircraft incorporated with this technology would be able to detect a fault about to happen in one of the engines. It would enable the engineers to look into the matter prior to any danger. The conventional control rooms also have various predictive analytics, but the integration of the digital twin would enhance the efficiency to deal with any danger looming around the corner. Briefly, the technology enables engineers to not only operate, but also to maintain and repair systems when they aren’t within physical proximity to them.

NASA faces various missions where the developing systems travel beyond the ability to see or monitor physically. A well-structured digital twin would allow engineers and astronauts to rescue mission in case of any unexpected emergency. NASA is already harnessing the power of the digital twin to craft flawless recommendations, roadmaps, and next-generation vehicles and aircraft. Conclusively, it’s the principle of evolution; when everything around you changes, so must you. The digital twin is precisely the type of innovation that has made the aerospace industry adopt. The IFS exec cites a study by the IT consultancy IDC that estimates investment in digital twinning yields a 30% improvement in cycle times of critical processes, including maintenance. “In 2018, expect to see more benefits as the technology matures.”

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Matanat Rashid

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