Digital Twin Technology: Benefits & Overview
What is a Digital Twin
When I first heard about “Digital Twins,” it was concerning the “Metaverse.” My 3D design mindset immediately pictured an animated 3D model moving robot arms, mimicking arc welds in an assembly line producing CG cars out of 3D meshes in some “Ready Player One” style environment. While this may represent some digital twin models, in reality, the digital twin concept is much more abstract and accessible than this. A digital twin is made up of data, but how this data is stored and processed makes it a valuable asset.While there’s no rigid definition of the digital twin, industry experts and scientific organizations are working on a general framework for this concept. Through these efforts, it has been determined that the creation of a digital twin requires the following elements: model, data, monitoring, and uniqueness.
What Does a Digital Twin Do?
A digital twin inputs data from real-world sensors (i.e., an occupancy sensor in a conference room) and combines that data with other sources (i.e., a corporate booking calendar). The data is then analyzed and contextualized into an interpretable report. In this case, it’s to let meeting organizers know that a room that wasn’t scheduled for use is still being occupied and may not be available when the scheduling system indicates appropriately. This is a straightforward example, but the concept applies to most models.
For example, product manufacturing companies, like Tesla, can retrieve live data from sensors on any of their vehicles on the road and track information such as battery charge, error codes, and even suspension performance. They can use this data to improve the next generation of vehicles, issue recalls, or even make software updates to customers for a quick enhancement.
Similarly, any manufacturing facility can use sensors along the process to view a live data set that will let management and designers see where there may be hold-ups. They can use this data to help develop better efficiencies or even safety enhancements.
Building management is another popular application for digital twins where facilities such as power usage, climate control, occupancy trends, and even structural wear can be monitored. All of these aspects of a building operation requires IoT (Internet of Things) devices and sensors that can sync to a central network—and with the right software, provide building management and owners an up-to-date view of its status and help them prepare for future upgrades.
Setting up a Digital Twin Model
Some digital twin developers have added the ability to rewind the history and even modify some of the data to replay a hypothetical scenario. This gives them the capability to test out or prototype new practices or technologies and virtually test what the results would be.
While the benefits of digital twins are clear, there are three components that these models require to be accurate and useful:
- Good Data
- Robust communications network
- A software platform that is compatible with IoT systems
Aggregated data (info received from sensors or other devices) is an essential component of the digital model. It is crucial in the planning phase to know what data you need to make informed conclusions. For instance, if you want to know the average temperature of a building, you don’t want to rely on thermostats in one part of the building but instead on all sides and floors to get an accurate picture.
Good data sourcing requires a good network. Adding IoT devices means more network drops, bandwidth, and possibly additional subnetworks to run these systems on. Upgrading your switches and servers and overall network may be daunting. This is where New Era Technology can assist your organization.
The data received is useless without a platform to ingest and interpret it so you can make informed decisions about your model. Solutions like Microsoft Azure provide customers with an enterprise software that allows them to consume IoT data from any business system and develop custom models and reports.
New Era Technology Can Help
With the proper planning and IoT environment, digital twins can save millions in product testing or even cost savings by monitoring efficiencies in any process or product. Evaluate for yourself if a digital twin can be helpful to your business process, manufacturing system, or facility. Contact New Era Technology today to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org