I have a twin! Well, I have a digital twin. You probably do too. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a digital twin, don’t fret—you’re not alone. In fact, this technology is relatively new and still developing.
The idea of creating virtual models to simulate real-life situations isn’t new. NASA uses digital twins to run simulations and test flights on airplanes before they’re actually flown by pilots in person or sent into space with astronauts aboard them (pretty cool right?). However, until now there hasn’t been much focus on how we could apply these same concepts outside the aerospace industry — until now that is…
The idea of a digital twin is simple to understand. A digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product, or service that can be used to:
- Improve performance: Understand how a process works, and improve it.
- Explore new ideas: Imagine what could happen in the future, and create it now.
- Make better decisions: See what’s happening on the ground in real time, so you can make confident decisions for your business.
- Reduce risk: Identify potential problems before they occur and fix them before they cause issues for customers or colleagues.
- Improve efficiency: Maximize resources to get more out of them than would be possible otherwise – whether that’s staff time, materials or energy consumption – by turning data into insights for everyone involved in a system (including those who aren’t currently involved).
Digital twins are used to run simulations using predictive analytics and data from sensors that are attached to airplanes and engines. These “test flights” for engines and airplanes allow for safe experimentation and troubleshooting without risking human life or harming the equipment. More recently however, the potential use cases for digital twins have expanded beyond industry.
NASA’s journey with the digital twin
NASA’s Advanced Turbine Systems Project (ATSP) has created a digital twin of their Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan engine used in aviation systems like Boeing’s 737 MAX series aircrafts. This makes it possible for engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio to monitor real world conditions on an airplane remotely via computer software without having any physical connection between themselves and the airplane itself – all from their office desktops!
Digital twins aren’t limited just to planes though – they can be applied anywhere where there is an application that would benefit from being able to predict future outcomes based off current data gathered through sensors placed around said device/application/process etc…
Today, digital twins are being used in healthcare to help monitor a patient’s health in real time. Augmented Reality (AR), simulated environments, and virtual reality (VR) can all be used with the data provided by digital twins to improve patient outcomes. For instance, AR could be used by surgeons during an operation or VR can be used by physicians to practice risky procedures in a simulated environment before they operate on an actual patient.
The list of potential uses for a digital twin is seemingly endless, but one thing they all have in common is their ability to collect data. For example, an AR system could be used by surgeons to visualize a patient’s anatomy in real time and allow for better planning of surgical procedures.
Virtual reality (VR) can be used by physicians to practice risky procedures in a simulated environment before they operate on an actual patient. The benefits of this approach include the reduction or elimination of unnecessary risks during surgery as well as the reduction or elimination of costs associated with conducting unnecessary surgeries that did not need to take place because the physicians were not sufficiently trained prior to operating on real patients (which can lead to malpractice lawsuits).
The idea behind digital twins goes beyond the practical uses of this technology—it is rooted in the desire to create a more connected world where people’s decisions can be made with better information than what has been available in the past. When we’re able to see how our choices impact different systems—for example, seeing how changing one variable will affect overall energy consumption—we gain better insight into how we can create a more sustainable future.
As you may have heard, a digital twin is an avatar that represents your physical system. It’s kind of like an actor who plays the role of “you” in the virtual world and learns how to be more efficient, safer, and easier to use over time. This concept can be applied across systems ranging from trains to buildings to entire cities. Since all systems are made up of parts that must work together in order for a system as a whole to function properly (think about how many things need to go right just so you can take a shower), it makes sense that we’d want an accurate representation of those parts—and their interactions—in order for us humans running them not to make mistakes or waste energy unnecessarily.
As we’ve seen in this post, digital twins can be used for many different purposes. The technology has already been applied to industrial processes, healthcare, and the energy sector. In the future, we’ll likely see more uses for digital twins in retail and other industries as well. What will your digital twin look like?
Smart connected operations are transforming companies and changing the way we do business.
Imagine if your company was able to take advantage of data that revealed existing and future problems, and allowed your team to make drastic improvements by completing predictive maintenance and service.
Business decisions can no longer be reactive. You need to be proactive — Here’s how smart connected operations could ‘revolutionize’ the way you do business.
Smart connected operations help businesses make faster decisions
What helps a company make fast, highly informed decisions? Data.
Smart connected operations allow information to be collected from multiple sources, assets, facilities, and even vendors. This connectivity allows data to be collected and analyzed to inform decision-making and enable teams to make faster decisions.
Smart connected operations help businesses increase operational performance
Smart connected operations can help your business monitor and track asset viability, ultimately allowing your company to reduce downtime, improve design, and improve utilization.
Data from connected assets, in collaboration with other enterprise systems, can provide not previously possible visibility and automation across organizations.
For example, product data flowing through a CRM system can also be sent to billing or into a supply chain management system— helping to eliminate error-prone manual steps and providing new sales opportunities for things such as consumable replenishment or warranty renewals. (PTC)
Smart connected operations help businesses decrease lead time and increase product quality
The insight smart connected operations provide will help you improve and perfect your production processes.
By integrating smart technologies and processes, your organization can lower development costs, time-to-market, and improve your overall product quality.
Smart connected operations help businesses improve manufacturing responsiveness
A sensorized manufacturing floor let’s you monitor performance, in real-time, and provide valuable information to field service technicians and manufacturing floor managers.
Service responsiveness will be accelerated with remote monitoring, access, and complete management of your disparate systems through enabling smart connected operations within manufacturing.
Smart connected operations help businesses improve supply chain coordination
The new capabilities of smart, connected operations will alter every activity in the supply chain.
Your operational efficiency will increase exponentially if your organization reaps the benefits of integrating with other data, such as inventory locations, traffic patterns, commodity prices, and historical data repositories.
Smart connected operations help businesses reduce manufacturing IT costs
Smart connected operations use digital interfaces that make it easier and less expensive to track the production process. These interfaces are less costly to apply and easier to modify than physical system controls. By integrating smart connected operations, your company will increase operation mobility, which in turn can reduce your manufacturing IT costs.
The sensors in smart connected operations also identify a need for service before the machine or product fails. These data analytics will drive previously unattainable efficiency improvements by providing predictive maintenance analytics and higher productivity levels.
With the help of predictive analytics, smart connected operations help organizations anticipate problems and take early action.
For example, your industrial machines would be remotely monitored and adjusted by end users during and beyond operation hours. They could even begin to manage themselves leveraging machine learning and predictive analytic engines.
The bottom line is that smart connected operations have begun to change business models, organizational structure, and manufacturing system architecture.
The development and the deployment of smart connected operations will be incremental, but the opportunity is here today.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to start capturing the time, dollars, production, and quality that smart connected operations can provide.