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What is a Digital Twin?

What is a Digital Twin?

The words ‘Digital Twin’ have been emerging in many industries for a very reasonable purpose in this digital age. The reason behind its importance comes with multi-faceted optimisation capabilities for all industries and people alike. In 2002, Dr. Michael Greeves coined this term: ‘Digital Twin’ to address a digital solution that has been enabled in Industry 4.0. A Digital Twin is a technology that creates virtual or digital replicas of physical assets. It may be a product, equipment, a human, or a part of a thing, Digital Twin can recreate a copy of the asset in the virtual world but with better visualisation. [2] For example, a doctor can use this technology to digitally replicate the heart of a person suffering from cardiovascular disease, in a computer-based 3D model or a silicon model. This replication can be viewed, cut open, operated in countless instances by feeding real-time data to mimic different instances. The doctor can redo the operation until he/she succeeds before actually operating the patient’s biological heart.

A Use Case in the 1970s

The first to ever use Digital Twin is by NASA. It is not a surprising fact because NASA’s assistance systems surely need exquisite simulation capabilities. But the fact that NASA used this technology in the 1970s is something to be astonished about. NASA used the digital twin technology in their Apollo 13 project -the seventh crewed mission to visit space- since they have to keep making changes in the rocket under extreme environmental conditions in space. It was a combination of mathematical and physical data-based modules that represented an almost updated version of the vehicle and can be regarded as a primitive example for the origin of Digital Twin Technology.

How are Digital Twins coming into existence?

Nevertheless, the Digital Twins that we see today are much more advanced and precise compared to the models used by engineers years ago. Futuristic Digital Twin technologies that we use today are built by veteran digital solution enablers who are often experts in Industry 4.0 technologies, data science, and applied mathematics. First, the required asset- a whole or part of a thing or living being- is being thoroughly studied by them before developing the virtual model. The virtual model is also interconnected to sensors or actuators that will help in feeding it with real-time data which allows the user of this technology to use the digital prototype to monitor and gather insightful information about the performance of the actual asset in real-time.

Digital Twins in Action

Digital Twins are used by their human counterparts to get real-time information about the assets that they mimic. For example, it can be the rate of performance of a machine, the speed of a turbine, or even to detect a part that is malfunctioning in equipment. To get such readings, the Digital Twin must proceed as explained below:

  1. Store bulks of real-time data in a locally decentralised storage medium or a cloud continuously
  2. The simulation must be precise so that the user can evaluate the performances as required
  3. The user can then archive the most appropriates times, dates, and scenarios that can facilitate the performance of the assets to be at its best
  4. The parameters that are been detected by the users can be used to maintain and upgrade the real-world assets in the most appropriate time
Industries that use Digital Twins
  1. Manufacturing Industry
    Manufacturing firms use Digital Twins to probe manufacturing machinery in factories and warehouses in and out to ensure streamline productivity. The products that are manufactured can also be simulated in the digital world to detect faults and malfunctions. Click here to read more on how this technology facilitates manufacturers.
  2. Automotive Industry
    The products are analysed by automakers at every stage: engineering, assembling, and as a final product. They can use Digital Twins to understand the resilience the vehicles would have in different weather conditions, speeds, and even during accidents without spending so much money on resources.
  3. Construction Industry
    Construction site managers can equip Digital Twins to build models of the constructions that they are making. Understanding resource allocations, speed in working, and predicting when the project will be terminating is never made easier for them.
  4. Utility Industry
    Utility services providers can monitor the ceaseless real-time data streams to understand operations of utility service networks such as transport systems, power supply systems, water systems, etc.
  5. Healthcare Industry
    Simulation is turning tables in the Healthcare industry for it provides amazing opportunities for students to learn, researchers to research, and understand more of the anatomies of biological structures better and faster. Click here to learn more about how technology is revolutionising in the Healthcare Industry.

Digital Twins are contributing to optimising assets and rendering immense facilities for researchers to create new products using new processes in the new age. Digital Twin is therefore a noteworthy technology since, in the recent future, most industries will be majorly using this modernistic technology to reach and overpass their goals.

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