What is Digital Twin?: Applications, Examples, Trends and More 

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The digital twin technology has expanded beyond manufacturing to include Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Data Analytics. As the world is experiencing the fourth industrial revolution ( industry 4.0), advanced modern technologies like Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Digital Twins (DT) are essential. By combining these technologies, companies can test ideas and designs at low costs and recreate products, manufacturing processes, supply chains, and everything in between in a digital environment. Businesses are using digital twins to curate data from multiple sources and use it to improve outcomes at every stage of design, manufacturing, and support. Let’s explore digital twins in more detail.

What is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical product, system, or process. It is a digital representation or instantiation of a physical object, which includes its virtual model, its data, unique one-to-one correspondence, and monitoring capabilities. By combining the virtual and physical worlds, data can be analyzed and monitored to prevent problems in advance. To put it simply, a digital twin is a virtual representation of something that has been manufactured in reality. Thus, a digital twin connects the physical and digital worlds. Using sensors, the system collects data about a physical item in real-time. NASA used digital twins successfully to simulate space flights on the ground as one of the first users of this concept.

How do Digital Twin work?

The digital twin creates a virtual representation of physical assets, systems, or processes. A combination of 3D modeling, sensor data, and Artificial Intelligence is used to create this replica. Here’s how it works:

  • 3D modeling
    Creating a digital twin involves modeling the physical object or system in 3D. It can be created using computer-aided design software or another 3D modeling program.
  • Sensor data
    Digital twins are then filled with sensor data collected from physical objects. This data includes information about the object’s or system’s physical properties, such as shape, size, material, etc. Additionally, it includes information about a system’s performance, such as its temperature, pressure, and vibration.
  • Artificial Intelligence
    AI algorithms are then applied to the digital twin in order to simulate and analyze its behavior. The algorithms can identify potential problems before they occur by predicting how the object or system will behave under different conditions.
  • Simulation
    Digital twins are created and populated with sensor data so they can simulate the behavior of physical objects or systems under different conditions, such as stress, wear, or environmental changes. Engineering and design teams can test and optimize a product’s performance before it is built, reducing costs and improving efficiency.
  • Real-time monitoring
    Digital twins can also be integrated with IoT to monitor physical objects and systems in real time. It helps identify problems and improve maintenance & repair by monitoring and analyzing the performance of the object in real-time.

Digital Twin market size

Digital Twin market size

Types of Digital Twins

Digital twins have various uses and can be categorized in different ways.

Asset twins

Dynamic virtual models of physical assets continually update and improve based on ongoing, real-time data while allowing real-time interactions between components. The asset twin can simulate assembly line machines, for example, allowing businesses to test multiple configurations and reduce errors.

System twins

System twins are a level above asset twins because they allow the digital representation of a larger system within which critical assets operate – like a factory. The twin tests not only a variety of outcomes and analyzes data but also recommend improvements in performance.

Infrastructure twins

Infrastructural digital twins are three-dimensional digital representations of objects or systems with engineering-grade accuracy. As defined by the Digital Twin Consortium, this subtype must be precise to millimeters, geospatially aligned, and capable of supporting complex 3D engineering schemas.

Applications of Digital Twins

Many industries are using digital twins for a variety of purposes. Here are a few examples:

Smart cities

The use of digital twins is becoming more common in helping cities become more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Models can guide planning decisions and help cities solve many of their problems.

Healthcare

Digital twins are being used in the medical department for training, organ donation, and risk reduction during surgery. Also, the system tracks where an infection may be located and who is at a risk of becoming infected.

Manufacture

Using digital twins, entire production processes can be simulated down to the smallest detail. When applied to manufacturing, it can help optimize internal processes such as production and product design. It allows companies to predict how products or processes will behave in the future using the digital twin.

Retail

The customer experience can also be enhanced with digital twins in retail outside of industry and manufacturing.

Disaster Management

In recent years, climate change has affected the world, and digital twins can help to counteract this problem by creating intelligent infrastructure and monitoring climate change.

Energy

Digital twin runs simulations using actual data, so power generation and consumption are easier to optimize. Using real-world data, the technology identifies surges in energy demand and pinpoints machinery that might be using too much power. As a result, energy demand is optimized, and operating costs are reduced.

Automotive

The automotive industry traditionally involves a lot of product development and testing. There have been instances when car manufacturers have had to recall millions of units from the market because of a single design flaw, resulting in billions of dollars in waste. DT technology can reduce production costs by preventing failures before production begins.

Logistics

Managing supply chains in a company employing thousands of employees across multiple locations can also be a nightmare. In spite of the best managers in the world, maintaining an optimal flow of materials and people is impossible.

Still confused about how to implement digital twin technologies into your business? Consult a digital twin company to explore new growth opportunities.

Advantages of Digital Twin

Optimizing performance

A digital twin can identify the optimal parameters and actions to maximize key performance metrics and improve forecasting accuracy.

Predictions

Digital twins can be used to predict the future state of machines using different modeling techniques and algorithms. An example of a digital twin is one that can predict when race car tyres will wear out and suggest replacements as soon as possible.

Improved efficiency

The digital twin technology enables the simulation and optimization of physical objects, systems, and processes, which in turn reduces downtime and increases productivity.

Cost savings

The system can reduce costs by allowing models to be tested and optimized before they are built, which can reduce the need for expensive prototypes and physical testing.

Real-time monitoring

In real-time, digital twins can be integrated with the IoT for monitoring and analyzing physical objects and systems. As a result, problems can be identified early, and maintenance and repair can be improved.

Improved safety

A digital twin can contribute to improving physical safety by identifying potential safety hazards.

Better collaboration

By providing a common platform for data sharing, analysis, and decision-making, it improves collaboration between different departments and stakeholders.

Remote access

The use of digital twins allows remote access to physical objects or systems, making them more accessible and reducing travel time.

Maintenance and analysis

Using the right software to analyze data can help the physical counterpart perform better.

The use of a digital twin eliminates the need for guesswork by providing the best solution to service critical assets. Digital twin platforms can boost enterprises’ services and platforms as IoT adoption increases.

Challenges of Digital Twins

Despite its many advantages, digital twin technology faces some challenges in parallel with AI and IoT. Among them are standardization, management, and security of data as well as barriers to implementing them and transforming legacy systems.

There are several other challenges, including the need to update old IT infrastructure, connectivity challenges, and the lack of a standardized modeling approach. Digital Twins are likely to face significant challenges in the future due to their high cost of deployment, high power and storage requirements, and the complexity of their architectures.

Developing and implementing digital twin solutions is expensive, requiring significant investments in technology platforms, infrastructure development, data quality control, maintenance, and security measures. A digital twin infrastructure can also be expensive to maintain, requiring significant operational investments. Digital twin deployment is expected to be slowed down by high fixed costs and complex infrastructure.

Top 3 Digital Twin technologies trends to look out for in 2023

Digital twin trends in 2023 will see significant growth in its adoption throughout various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and energy. Based on the current industry developments and an ongoing research, the following trends could shape the digital twin technology landscape in 2023.

1. Digital twin with Generative AI

Digital twin technology combined with generative AI could transform large systems, ranging from industrial facilities to cities. We may see further advancements in linking generative AI to digital twin models in the coming year so that not only objects’ forms but also their functionality can be accurately described. Make the most out of digital twin technology with our Generative AI services.

2. Digital twin with Virtual Reality (Metaverse)

A high-quality virtual environment can be created by combining Metaverse with digital twin technology. Metaverse users can interact with virtual replicas of real-world locations like buildings and cities by integrating digital twins of these objects into the Metaverse. The technology can be used in a variety of fields, such as architecture, urban planning, and tourism.

3. Integration of AI and ML technologies

The incorporation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is one of the key trends in digital twins, which can help utilities identify inefficiencies in their systems and suggest solutions. As a result of the use of cloud-based digital twins, utility companies are able to monitor and make decisions in real-time, making them more flexible and agile.

As a whole, digital twin technology is one of the fastest-growing trends in the utility sector and is expected to play an increasingly important role in driving innovation. As the future shifts toward AI and ML, it is time for you to be at the forefront of these advancements with our AI software development and ML services.

Digital Twin real-world examples

We have researched the most practical digital twin examples in businesses so that our readers can avoid confusion and understand how the digital twin platform can be applied in real scenarios.

1. Digital Twin Example in Healthcare – Living Heart Human Model

The “Living Heart Project” of Dassault Systèmes, a French company, has been developing a digital twin of the human heart since 2013. According to Slate, the program converted a 2D scan of a person’s heart into a 3D model that included 208,561 digital tetrahedrons. It was released in 2015.

With the advancement of digital twin technology, it has evolved into the Living Heart Human Model, an actual four-chamber human heart that mimics the electrical, structural, and fluid flow properties of a real heart. The digital twin allows doctors to study general heart defects, heart diseases and even run simulations on how the heart responds to medical devices like annuloplasty rings or pacemakers.

2. Digital Twin Example in Manufacturing – IntelligentEngine

An IntelligentEngine is a part of Rolls-Royce’s IntelligentEngine initiative, which uses Artificial Intelligence, digital twin technology, and data analytics to optimize engine performance.
Using digital twin technology, Rolls-Royce’s IntelligentEngine software enhances aircraft engine performance. As a result of this technology, virtual replicas of physical engines can be built, which allows for a wider variety of potential scenarios to be simulated. IntelligentEngine helps customers better understand and achieve greater efficiency.

3. Digital Twin Example in Construction – Bentley BIM for civil

BIM Modelling services from Bentley help architects, engineers, contractors, and site workers address all types of construction problems. By processing point cloud data, a detailed 3D building information model can be created.

In this model, BIM managers can ensure clients receive accurate results by performing quality assurance and quality control checks. A clash detection feature in Bentley can also identify discrepancies in electrical or plumbing systems and eliminate miscommunications.

Future of Digital Twin

Digital twin solutions are expected to play an increasingly important role in Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which integrates advanced technologies into manufacturing and other sectors. There is still much to discover about digital twin technology. It is expected that the market for digital twins will reach $48.2 billion by 2026, despite having already been applied to various industries.

Further, it is expected to be increasingly integrated with other technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. The use of digital twin technology in maintenance and repair is expected to increase over time as the capability to detect prospective issues and schedule preventive maintenance increases.

As a result of high-resolution models and advanced AI algorithms, digital twin technology is anticipated to become more realistic, allowing for more accurate simulations and analysis of physical objects.

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author
Niha Parmanandani
AUTHOR

A dynamic content writer with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism, she specializes in writing for web and social media.  It is her passion to play with words and keep up with technology trends. Her passion for reading drives her to create engaging, educational, and inspiring content.

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