Describe Digital Twin, How does it function? Types

Beyond manufacturing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and data analytics have all been combined by digital twin technologies. Having a digital counterpart enables data scientists and other IT professionals to optimise deployments for optimal efficiency and develop numerous what-if scenarios as more complex “things” join and contribute data.

What is Digital Twin?

A computer-generated digital representation of a physical thing or system is known as a “digital twin technology.” Some claim that even people and procedures can have digital twins, further widening the concept. The technology underpinning digital twins has advanced to include buildings, industries, and even cities.

The idea of a digital twin was developed at NASA, where full-scale replicas of the first spacecraft were used on the ground to reflect and identify problems in orbit before being replaced with entirely digital simulations.

However, the phrase really took off after Gartner listed “digital twins” as one of the top ten major technology trends for 2017, stating “Within three to five years, digital twins—dynamic software representations of physical things or systems—would represent billions of objects. A year later, Gartner once again mentioned digital twins as a top trend, predicting that “by 2020, there will be an estimated 21 billion networked sensors and endpoints, and digital twins will exist for billions of things.”

A digital twin is essentially a computer software that creates simulations or predictions of the effects of inputs on a physical object or system based on real-world data about such things or systems.

How Do Digital Twins Function?

IT consulting companies, who frequently have data science or applied mathematics specialists on staff, are the ones that develop a digital twin. These programmers look into the physics of the physical system or object that is being imitated, and then use that knowledge to build a mathematical model that represents the original in digital space.

The twin is made to take information from sensors gathering data from a physical counterpart. As a result, the virtual twin may accurately replicate the physical object in real time, giving information about its performance and any potential flaws. A twin might also be created based on the prototype of a physical counterpart, in which case it could offer suggestions as the final product is being developed or even serve as a prototype before any physical versions are manufactured.

Uses of Digital Twin Technology

Potential use cases are illustrated by the digital twins of the car and the cargo ship that we previously described. Before being built physically, turbines, offshore oil platforms, trains, and aircraft engines can all be developed and tested digitally. These “digital twins” could help with maintenance tasks as well. A digital twin, for instance, could be used by technicians to test an equipment patch before actually installing it.

What different types of digital twins exist?

Instead of focusing on specific industries, IBM offers a classification system that takes into account the complexity of the paired objects. This is an excellent way to consider the requirements in specific usage scenarios and gives an outline of what digital twins might be able to do:

The tiniest type of functional component is called a component or part twin.

Asset twins allow you to study the interactions between two or more components by simulating how they operate together.
System or unit twins, such as simulating an entire production line, let you examine how various system assets interact with one another.
Process twins provide you a very high-level view of how systems work, enabling you to envisage how a whole factory might run.
It’s vital to remember that complexity rises as more elements are added to the mix. It can be difficult to mix and match components from different manufacturers because you require everyone’s intellectual property to get along in the environment of your digital twin.

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