Can Digital Twins Bridge the Gap Between the Digital and Physical Worlds?

Heard of the term Digital Twin? Yes, but are confused? Read on and see if you get a better idea about it at the end of this blog. 

Till a few years back, the convergence of digital and physical worlds might have sounded like a fantasy movie, an imagination of science fiction writers and movie makers. It is not so anymore, it is a reality now. We are now living in a world where digital twins replicate real-world physical products, systems, and processes in the virtual environment, including their functionality, features, and behavior.

The drivers plotting the quickest routes to deliver food to customers, ride-sharing platforms to on-demand delivery companies, and the global shippers at the hearts of our supply chains, who rely on geospatial data to navigate the real world are examples of using the ecosystem of the digital replica of the physical objects - digital twin. According to IBM, the digital twins is a technology tool that gets updated from real-time data, and use simulation, machine learning, and reasoning to help decision-making.

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Let us examine how the divide between our physical and digital worlds is closing more rapidly than ever before.

What is Meant by a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset or process in the real physical world. Its use cases are many which include enhancing operations efficiency and productivity, delivering training, developing product or testing processes, and predictive analytics and planning. Digital twins collect data from the real assets or processes in the real-world using IoT sensors and leverage them to reconstruct a digital twin.

Digital twins help pursue ‘ what if’ scenarios by putting a product or asset under particular conditions to receive powerful insights and valuable findings that can help boost efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and minimize costs to predict the life of a product or component, among others. The findings and insights derived from the digital twin can be applied to the real asset in the physical world, which provides better results with less risk.

The fact that Digital Twin was Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017 and 2018 comes from the limitless potential of its use cases in different segments and arenas. The digital twins market was worth almost $4 billion in 2019 and is predicted to reach almost $36 billion by 2025. The wider adoption of the technology that led to its huge growth is partly because of making modeling and simulation capabilities and more powerful IoT sensors cheaper and accessible to small to medium businesses which hitherto could be accessible by multinational corporations.

 

How Does Digital Twin Technology Work?

A digital twin - an exact replica of any physical object or asset in virtual form - could be of a factory, building, workspace, maps like google Maps, an airplane engine, a ship, a turbine, or even a human organ, or even a city. Digital twins can also recreate physical assets as well as processes.

A computer application that recreates the exact virtual replica of a physical asset by using real-world data to simulate a product or a process is how a digital twin process works. The software program integrates IoT data with technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to produce enriched data that is powerful to facilitate informed decision-making, with reduced risk, time, and cost, leading to greater levels of success.

In a nutshell, a digital twin, leveraging advanced predictive, monitoring, and analytical data, can help predict and prevent downtimes and failures in physical assets and objects, as well as test processes and services.

 

The Challenges That a Digital Twin Can Solve

The digital transformation that is achieved with the use of emerging and developing technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, machine learning, and automation, deliver benefits in the form of simplifying procedures using a large amount of valuable data to improve the accuracy of decision-making processes. However, implementing the technology successfully is a challenge. 

A digital twin comes as a solution to this challenge by bridging what has been traditionally a gap between physical and digital - something that only larger enterprises could manage till recently. The technology offers a different method of adopting digital transformation and making its many benefits reach a wider ecosystem that includes small to medium enterprises.

Digital technology, a three-dimensional version of its real-life counterpart, that enables visualization of data inputted in real-time, and in a simplified way, can be used in a huge variety of use cases and scenarios across a multitude of industry sectors. Digital twin technology replaces the production and analysis of a large amount of complex data that needs considerable time and expertise. It allows teams to recreate potential scenarios, and try and monitor the changes in those scenarios,  before implementing them live on real assets or objects.

 

The Benefits of Digital Twins for Businesses

Digital twins are capable of delivering a wide variety of benefits to organizations. The technology can be leveraged to optimize the performances in areas of business including supply chains, logistics, fulfillment aspects, field services, and predictive maintenance of plants and equipment. On a larger scale, digital twin technology is adopted to help tackle urban congestion and enhance the results from urban planning in city scenarios. Surgeons use technology in conducting operations on important organs of the human body.

Digital twin connected with IoT sensors powers themselves to get into the greater details of the product or service to optimize financial projections and pricing. This benefits end-user customers with better service, and more upselling opportunities for the business. Furthermore, digital twin technology helps respective teams analyze the root causes of a problem or downtime and make intelligent recommendations. The root cause analysis provides insight that enhances the predictive maintenance process and delivers improved clarity on the performance of an asset or process, along with suggested recommendations on how to attain better results.

 

A Note to Conclude

The talent that can develop digital twins that can help businesses analyze data, workflows, and human behaviors in real-time, allowing instant action resulting in an optimal performance at minimum cost is scarce and expensive. Small to medium enterprises may find these tents full-time expensive and at some time, cannot afford to neglect the need for them. The TaaS (Task/Talent as a Service) platforms provide the best minds in the domain to help SMEs build digital twins. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind in the race for delivering the best customer experience and business performance.

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