What Is Digital Twin?

Category : Technology
Blog posted by : Admin / 23 Jan, 2020

Imagine you are in your office, tied up with important work that cannot be delayed; and suddenly you get a call about a serious machinery maintenance issue that needs immediate attention. What is the one thing you wish you had the ability to do the most at that very moment? You wish you could somehow get an accurate and exhaustive view of the ground reality that physical presence in front of the machinery would give you, but you would want it without having to leave your office.

Well, a decade into the future, that would probably be a reality, right? Nope, not right. Because it is already a reality! Sounds a bit too good to be true, does it not? Does it not seem like it is out of a Sci-Fi movie?

With today’s Sci-Fi movies that stretch our minds to maximum capacity, it is easy to lose track of what is already a reality. Digital Twin is exactly the kind of technology that makes you raise your eyebrows and ask yourself, “Is this real?"

What is Digital Twin exactly?

Simply put, a Digital Twin is a digital replica of a physical object or system. But that is not all it is, it is a virtual model that provides a dynamic representation of its physical counterpart. This is not limited to a single object or system, this could also be for an entire ecosystem, such as a manufacturing site or plant. But it is not really possible to describe this technology in a couple of sentences, as it waters down the true glory of this futuristic technology.

Digital Twin is a combination of technologies working together to bring together something greater, something far greater. It furnishes real-time data, real-time information, and real-time analytics. In addition to all of that, it offers machine learning capabilities and simulations.

While it gives a real-time representation of the physical counterpart, that is not all that it does. It gives you analysis, it provides you with information about possible solutions to problems or plans of action and even acts on it. It also gives you the ability to program objects and systems remotely. But it does not end there, it also gives objects the ability to think and act, making them smart. The things that can be achieved with this technology are virtually limitless.

A whole new world!

Digital Twin technology is a binding agent between the physical world and the digital world. It acts as a bridge between the two worlds and brings about a convergence of the physical and the digital world. This merging of the physical and the virtual world is meant to bring about more ease and efficiency.

To better understand the world of possibilities that Digital Twin unlocks, read about a few of the ways in which Digital Twin will add value mentioned below. These are a few fields of application with a couple of digital twin examples to help better understand this technology.

Asset Monitoring:

With Digital Twin technology, one can have the peace of mind that physically checking in on an asset/system gives, without actually having to drop in on the physical location. It gives great ease in monitoring and managing assets. With Digital Twin, not only can we have a real-time virtual representation of an asset, but also get real-time information and analytics of its performance and output.

Managing manufacturing plants and machinery will be a dream-like experience. We will be experiencing the futuristic technology that we are seeing in movies. We can now bring up virtual models of assets and also interact with them through hand gestures and voice commands. Simply bring up a virtual representation of a manufacturing site or a piece of machinery and get live information on its performance and status.

Asset Maintenance:

It is one thing to monitor assets remotely, but Digital Twin enables much more than that. One can even command the digital twin to take actions remotely. Digital twins that have the ability to take corrective actions on behalf of the users already exist! This technology will make one feel as if they are in a science fiction movie. Imagine interacting with a digital twin and giving voice commands as the digital twin itself takes corrective actions on your behalf! Now, that sure is futuristic.

Smart Digital Twins:

 

As if the ability to monitor and maintain assets with virtual models, hand gestures and voice commands weren’t enough, Digital Twin does even more! That’s right! Even more! There are digital twins that can even think for themselves and suggest courses of action. Predictive maintenance will be taken a step further with this technology. Apart from providing analysis, digital twins can also draw conclusions and compare different courses of action and their effects by learning from previous data sets. Digital twins that will speak to you and provide you with status updates, deterioration progression updates, inform you of the different actions you can take while also telling you the outcomes of different actions are already a reality! These digital twins are advanced enough to tell you, “If you choose action ‘A’, the estimated corrective action time will be 10 days with Rs. 150,000 saved in future expenses; whereas option ‘B’ will have an estimated time of 14 days with Rs. 170,000 saved in future expenses.” This is truly next-generation technology.

 

Designing and Testing:

Digital Twin technology is going to revolutionise the way we design and test products and processes. Design validation is going to be much more efficient with the simulation and 3-D design visualisation that Digital Twin will facilitate. Simulations will especially enhance the validations of interoperability of different parts/functions; and the electrical, mechanical and thermal effects on the product as well as their effects on each other.

Product and process testing will venture into a whole new world with this technology. When it comes to Process Testing, understanding the functioning will not only be easier but also better with live replication of process issues through application logs. This will help prevent failures much more efficiently. Product testing will also gain great vantage with Digital Twin. The benefits of visual representation in product testing are glaringly invaluable. Add to that the analysis of mechanical, electrical, thermal factors, stress, and pressure; and it becomes immensely more valuable.

Diagnostics:

Digital Twin will augment Diagnostics capabilities tremendously. A visual representation in 3-D will enhance troubleshooting greatly. Simulations can integrate otherwise unapparent data such as stress levels, temperature, pressure levels, electrical discharge and flow, and much more. This would greatly improve diagnostics capabilities. Technicians also won’t need to be physically present at the location; which would boost productivity as it would mean that a great deal of time that would have been spent travelling to the asset location would be saved. It would also mean a reduction in the down-time of the asset.

Healthcare:

Getting a little more specific, Digital Twin stands to transform the world of patient care. Digital twins of organs will enable surgeons to practice and test procedures in simulations instead of doing it on a patient. This will greatly boost success rates of procedures due to the practice that surgeons would be able to avail. More importantly, it would be achieved without the risk of harming a patient. Additionally, it will greatly enhance treatments, as possible complications and problems will be rooted out during simulations.

Siemens Healthineers is also working on creating digital twins of entire bodies of patients. These digital twins will not only incorporate patients’ clinical records and data, but also integrate their molecular, cellular, and genetic data. This will not only help doctors decide what drug and dosage would be the best course of action, but also detect health conditions before they become clinically noticeable.

These are merely a few examples of what can be achieved with Digital Twin. The list of possibilities goes on and on. This revolutionary technology has virtually unlimited potential. The execution of this technology is going to shape the future; and the adaptability of organisations to this technology is going to determine their success in the 21st century.

                                                                                                                                      - Jasper Nadar


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