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  • Writer's pictureAshish Bhandari

Digital Twin: Empowering the Technological Transformation

Updated: May 16, 2023

In this age of technological revolution, the bounds of what's possible are being redefined through innovation, with digital twins playing a leading role. A digital twin is a digital replica of a physical entity that is created using data obtained from sensors, simulations, and other information sources. Let’s explore what digital twins are, how they work, and how they are empowering industry through its technological transformation.





Introduction to digital twin


A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical entity, created using data from sensors, simulations, and other sources, with the aim of mimicking its behavior, performance, and traits in the digital realm. It is by definition supposed to twin or mirror the physical object in the virtual world in every possible sense.


The digital twin enables the optimization of real-world performance of a physical object by examining its behavior, performance, and other features, resulting in increased efficiency, decreased waste, and boosted productivity. Digital twin provides the means to make knowledgeable decisions in the real world.



Benefits of digital twin


Some of the benefits to using digital twins are:


  • Optimized product design and development: With the help of digital twin technology, Enterprises can assess their designs and products prior to production. This leads to a better end-product and a quicker time-to-market. For example, GE Aviation has developed a digital twin of their CFM LEAP aircraft engine. The digital twin includes a virtual replica of the engine's components and sensors, as well as a simulation environment that models the engine's performance under different conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and altitude. Using the digital twin, GE Aviation can test and optimize the engine's design and performance without the need for physical prototyping, which can be costly and time-consuming. The digital twin can also be used to monitor the engine's performance in real-time, allowing for early detection of potential issues and proactive maintenance. Link: GE Aviation

  • Efficiency enhancement: Through the creation of a virtual representation of physical objects or systems, Enterprises can examine and mimic their behavior, performance, and attributes, resulting in increased efficiency and decreased waste or downtime. For example, Siemens has developed a digital twin of a gas-fired power plant in Germany. The digital twin includes a virtual replica of the plant's components and sensors, as well as a simulation environment that models the plant's performance under different conditions, such as varying load demand and fuel prices. Using the digital twin, Siemens can test and optimize the operation of the plant, such as adjusting the power output of individual turbines, optimizing fuel consumption, and scheduling maintenance activities. By doing so, they can increase the efficiency of the plant, reduce costs, and improve its reliability and lifespan. Link: Siemens Energy

  • Predictive maintenance: Through the analysis of real-time data obtained from sensors and interconnected devices, digital twins can forecast equipment malfunctions or plan maintenance, resulting in heightened equipment reliability and decreased unexpected downtime. For example, GE Renewable Energy has developed a digital twin of their wind turbines. The digital twin includes a virtual replica of the turbine's components and sensors, as well as a simulation environment that models the turbine's performance under different operating conditions, such as wind speed and temperature. Using the digital twin, GE Renewable Energy can monitor the performance of the turbine in real-time and predict potential maintenance needs, thereby reducing downtime and maintenance costs and increasing the lifespan and performance of the turbine. Link: GE Renewable Energy

  • Enhanced customer experiences: By creating virtual replicas of customer experiences and collecting data on their preferences, digital twins allow organizations to optimize and enhance their customer offerings. For example, Schneider Electric has developed a digital twin for facility optimization. The digital twin includes a virtual replica of the building’s components, such as lighting, heating and cooling systems, security systems, and appliances. Operators can access the digital twin via a mobile app, allowing them to monitor and control these components from anywhere, at any time. Link: Schneider Electric EcoStruxure

  • Greater collaboration: Digital twins can be shared among different teams, geographies, allowing for greater collaboration and knowledge sharing across organizations. For example, the construction company of hospital construction project Glasblokkene Trinn 2 in Bergen, Norway has used a digital twin to design and construct the hospital. The digital twin includes a virtual replica of the building's components and systems, such as the electrical and mechanical systems, as well as a collaboration platform that allows stakeholders to share information, track progress, and resolve issues in real-time. Link: Glasblokkene Trinn 2

  • Informed decision-making: With the abundance of data and insights provided by digital twins, organizations can make smarter decisions, resulting in optimized operations, lower costs, and increased profitability. For example, the transportation company DHL has developed a digital twin of their warehouses and transportation network. The digital twin includes a virtual replica of their facilities and assets, as well as a simulation environment that models their performance under different operating conditions, such as changes in demand, weather, or traffic. Link: DHL


What lies ahead


As technology continues to progress, digital twin utilization will become more accessible and cost-effective for organizations. As the advantages of digital twins become better known, their utilization will become more widespread across numerous industries, leading to a rise in adoption and investment in the technology. With advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT, digital twins will become more precise and effective, resulting in heightened simulation and analysis abilities. Increased collaboration will facilitate the sharing of knowledge across organizations, resulting in new and inventive solutions for a wide range of industries.

Integration of digital twins with other technologies, such as Blockchain, AR and VR, will result in novel and inventive applications for all involved stakeholders and technologies.



Leveraging digital twin with blockchain

Digital twin is a digital copy of a physical asset or system, it can be employed for purposes such as monitoring, simulation, and enhancement. When paired with blockchain technology, the digital twin presents various advantages with respect to security, traceability, and transparency.

Digital twin technology and blockchain have the potential to be combined to create several business solutions, including:

  • Predictive Maintenance: Digital twin models can be used to simulate and predict the performance of physical assets and infrastructure, which can be combined with blockchain-based smart contracts to automate maintenance schedules and reduce downtime.

  • Supply Chain Traceability: By combining digital twin models of products with blockchain-based supply chain management systems, companies can increase the transparency and accountability of their supply chains and ensure the authenticity of their products.

  • Asset Management: By using digital twins to represent physical assets, companies can track the ownership, usage, and maintenance history of these assets on a blockchain, providing a secure and immutable record of their lifecycle.


Conclusion


In conclusion, digital twins with their ability to analyze real-world data, are driving a major shift in the way organizations think about and approach data and technology-driven transformation. Digital twins are helping organizations undertake informed decision-making, and optimize the performance of their physical assets. Digital twins are shaping the future of technology and have the potential to revolutionize the way we work and live.


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