Digital Twins: A Thin Line Between Reality and Virtuality

Have you ever desired to have another identical replica of yours to handle your tasks online while you enjoy an exotic vacation or some family time? In this digital era, no prayers go unheard. Well, your wishes are granted in the form of a “digital twin, “a virtual replica of your physical entity. Sounds interesting, right?

21 Jul 2022
Sumi S

An actual representative and one fascinating example of digital transformation is the use of “digital twins,” which are virtual reproductions of real-world things that have been given artificial intelligence and real-time data. The ‘thing’ can be anything under the moon, from a jet engine to a car. The physical asset’s connected sensors gather data that can be transferred onto the virtual model. Now, anyone seeing the digital twin can see essential details regarding how the physical object is faring in the real world. They can, however, be interpreted in various ways, which tends to conceal their accurate, practical application.

A digital equivalent for a physical entity serves as the foundation for digital twins. Every business connection with its clients involves physical elements, from the automotive to the agricultural industries. With the help of digital twins, businesses will be able to extend the advantages of the software world to their physical assets, better meeting the needs of their digital customers.

How do digital twins get to know everything?

The digital data, twins gather from specialists with in-depth topic expertise from other similar assets, helps them learn on their own. After being created, the twins have sensors that enable it to take in any input from its physical twin. This can be used to identify potential problems, gain knowledge, gather feedback on a product, and more. Additionally, they include and use past data to polish their simulations.

The digital twin’s architecture

Customarily, digital twins have three layers:

  1. A connectivity layer that uses SCADA, the Internet of Things, or historians
  2. A modelling and simulation layer may include a wide range of tools, including artificial intelligence (AI), industry simulators (thermodynamic, fluid-dynamic, chemical, and more), and AI.
  3. A layer for insight and visualisation that can be created online, with analytics software, or even with mixed reality

The final layer of these three is called “learning feedback,” which enables the use of expert feedback and historical data to alter the behaviour of digital twins and the dependability of the physical twin.

Who stands to gain?

Digital twins can contribute to increased productivity in massive engines and intricate machinery. Like industrial settings with cooperative machine systems, digital twins are excellent in enhancing process efficiency. Those sectors that work on large-scale items or projects have the most success with digital twins. Digital twin technology has been used in Formula 1 racing to streamline the competition. Any racing or sports team could employ the digital twin to use a virtual twin in determining areas for strategy and progress.

Consider real estate as another example; a digital twin would link all systems and provide accurate insights and the capacity to evaluate the process. Managers would then be able to refine their plans, improving the structure’s viability and effectiveness. Additionally, it would result in lower expenses.

Last but not least, the digital twin notion in healthcare refers to the development of computer models of diseases or even a virtual human body. Customised medications or therapies might be created using a medical twin for each patient. The following industries are going to reap the maximum benefits of digital twins:

  1. Engineering (systems)
  2. Automobile manufacturing
  3. Aircraft production
  4. Railcar design
  5. Building construction
  6. Manufacturing
  7. Power utilities
  8. Real estate
  9. Sports and Racing
  10. Healthcare

Let’s discuss some benefits of digital twins, but these are only the tip of the iceberg while the others are up and coming:

1.Enhance the user experience

Data is essential to comprehend the past, know the present, and anticipate the future. The foundation of any effective user experience programme is effective data management. Digital twins use IoT to collect real-time data from the physical environment. The information gathered is continually analysed, examined, and learned to provide valuable insights. With real-time analytics, businesses may successfully implement user-centric programs.

2.High-quality, innovative products

A competitive advantage that separates the leader from the followers is innovation. Physical asset innovation necessitates significant R&D expenditures. Design, testing, and operation require specialised knowledge due to the high cost of failures. These creative roadblocks can be solved with the help of digital twins. Enterprises can work with the user community to create high-quality offerings in a simulated environment that combines real-time information.

3.Enhance business processes

In terms of consumer annoyance, broken processes and bureaucracy would be at the top. The orchestration, knowledge management, and technological architecture are fragmented and siloed due to the complexity of modern business operations. The numerous systems and processes are brought together under one roof using digital twins, which act as a meta-layer. Digital twins are essential for knowledge management, training, and process optimisation in the complicated future. Additionally, simulations and visualisations support better process management and human learning.

4.Operative flexibility

Operational agility will affect an organisation’s top and bottom lines in a highly competitive marketplace. Black-box algorithms, the enormous amounts of information gathered, and the need for quicker judgments all work against human operators. Digital twins allow a range of diagnostic and prognostic capabilities by utilising enormous amounts of data, technology, and scenario. The human operators can re-enter the process and find strategies for being competitive and flexible.

5.Information security

Information security is a challenge that comes with all the data. Open source, collaborative learning, and knowledge sharing have never had a more compelling argument. We can’t advance if data breaches are happening more frequently. Trusted stakeholders could collaborate on a platform provided by digital twins to share information and gain from it. Digital twins can also act as a layer of concealment to protect the confidentiality of the data.

6.Upgraded R&D

Utilising digital twins produces a wealth of data regarding expected performance results, facilitating more efficient product research and creation. Before beginning production, businesses can use this data to gain insights that will help them make the necessary product improvements.

7.Greater effectiveness

Digital twins can aid in monitoring and mirroring production systems even after a new product has entered production to reach and maintain peak efficiency throughout the manufacturing process.

8.Product life cycle

Digital twins can also assist producers in determining how to handle products that have reached the end of their useful lives and require final processing, such as recycling or other actions. They can decide which product materials can be gathered by utilising digital twins.

9.The Future Course

The market for digital twins is increasing, which suggests that even if they are already used in many different industries, demand will persist for a while. The need for digital twins was worth USD 3.1 billion in 2020. It may continue to snowball until at least 2026, rising to a projected USD 48.2 billion, according to specific industry observers.

According to IDC, global spending on products and services that facilitate digital transformation will amount to US$1.97 trillion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 16.7%. Businesses are transforming the structure of their work to put the client first. Enterprises are taking more significant risks than ever in every aspect of business, from product design to marketing, sales, and even post-sales. Enterprises can use digital twins as a strategy to accomplish the goals of their initiatives for digital transformation.