In the era of rapid technological advancements, the innovation of digital twin technology has come up as one of the strongest technological boosts that have helped to diminish the differences that persist between the virtual and the real world. A digital twin is a virtual duplicate of the physical world and is furnished with relevant sensors, data analytics and machine learning algorithms which will help it to imitate and comprehend it’s physical world equivalent. Digital twin technology makes space for a merge between the physical and digital realms and this propagates a load of unprecedented opportunities which include monitoring, analysing and optimisation across numerous fields, and industries.
1. What is a Digital Twin?
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical entity that is matched up to it’s real-time data and uses imitation, optimisation, machine learning and logical thinking to aid machine learning. However, one should not mistake it for a clone entirely.
1.2. History of Digital Twin Technology:
The concept of Digital Twin was first introduced in a 1991 book called Mirror Worlds, penned by David Gelernter. It is also believed that. Dr Michael Grieves who was a professor at the University of Michigan brought about the concept of digital twin technology and even used it in production in 2002. Finally, it is conjectured that the term “digital twins” is coined by a NASA official, John Vickers in 2010. The inception of the term has a lot of confusion associated with it.
1.2.2 How to Design a Digital Twin?
Digital twins are usually created through a process of data collection which is then modified to set up a computer-based model. This model can perform a number of activities which includes communication with the physical copies, extracting information, exchanging them and receiving feedback as well.
Digital twins can be used to represent anything from an independent body to a whole network of systems. Even though the primary work scheme of imitating a physical world object is the same for all types of digital twins, their scope and techniques of working, and utility is varied. There are four types of digital twins:
2.1 Component twins:
The digitalised version of fixed components or parts, such as motors, automobiles, senses, and switches are referred to as component parts. Through this, we get detailed information on the performance of the objects in both the past and present. This ensures that the businesses are able to keep a check on the working ability of the products, fix the bugs when needed, and schedule the maintenance as per requirement.
2.2 Asset twins:
Duplicates of concrete assets such as structures, vehicles and equipment are known as Asset twins. The asset twins help in monitoring data associated with the operating status, the performative results and the environmental conditions of an asset. This helps the organisation to reduce the inactivity period and increase the effectiveness of its operations.
2.3 System twins:
The digital representation of a whole process or system is known as system twins. This helps the organization to check up on the performance of the items, and monitor the areas which require improvement.
2.4 Process twins:
A digitalised version of whole business processes and systems are known as process twins. They are meticulous and help track the customer and goods services relationships of an organisation. This further provides an opportunity to the business firms to pin point the areas of enhancement.
3. Benefits of Digital Twins:
Digital twins help us comprehend the processes of digital twin technology better. They give us a better idea of how things work by imitating the system and presenting their behaviour. This visual will help us make better decisions in relation to system processes, and enhanced optimisation.
3.2 Better problem-solving:
A digital twin allows one to experiment with a number of scenarios and inspect threats before they become real. This further allows the operators to test with a number of solutions as well, and identify defects, weaknesses, and inaccuracies before they attack the system.
One can come across and identify a number of defects, damage-causing factors and the system’s deviation from normalcy, and schedule timely maintenance on the site with the assistance of its digital twins. This will help the system to remain damage free since the operators can estimate its needs and further save time and expenses.
3.4 Ensuring great performance and efficiency:
Through continuous monitoring which the digital twins assures, the system can run smoothly and without any disruption. This will ensure that the system has a great performance, and is extremely efficient. The operators enhance performance, remove cache and waste, increase productivity and achieve better results.
3.5 Reduced expenses:
Utilising digital twins helps the operators to reduce the expenses involving the processing of their businesses.
3.6 Imitation and experimentation:
Digital twins can be used for experimentation through imitation. This reduces the need for physical prototypes and lessens the time needed for development. It further helps in identifying potential faults and using methods to recover solutions early.
3.7 Training and Education:
Lastly, digital twins are disguised as teaching tools to assist trainees, technicians and other staff. Their techniques assure a safe learning atmosphere for the rookie techies, allowing them to practise their skills and get the best experience without causing problems to the real assets or damaging them.
It is to be mentioned that in spite of all these advantages, the advantages may not be feasible for all situations, and they can create complications. This is due to the fact that a few business configurations do not require a digital twin and can be solved saving both time and cost.
Digital twin does not only have its advantages but its own set of limitations too. They are as follows:
4.1 Data may not be precise:
The only reason why a digital twin runs smoothly is because of the significance of the data input in them. If there are circumstances wherein the data input in the software is insufficient or not accurate, the digital twin will lose its credibility. Due to this, the presentation of the digital twin can suffer as well.
4.2 Faults in the system:
The digital twins are built upon algorithms of the actual systems and processes. The digitalised versions are a simplistic version of the real objects, and due to this may not be able to showcase all it’s complications to it’s fullest. This disadvantage may impact the predictability of the twin technology and question its credibility.
4.3 Time and effort consuming:
Creating, maintaining, and keeping a digital twin intact requires a lot of time and effort. People need to leave their other concerns and concentrate only on the digital twin at hand.
4.4 Issues related to space and scalability:
With time and complex processes, it becomes difficult for digital twins to be scaled. There are a lot of requirements that are to be met in these circumstances. Some of these include computational requirements, and also the pressure to accommodate a huge volume of data and its details. This may lead to lagging and affect the performance of the digital twin.
4.5 Privacy and security:
Since digital twins depend on a number of resources on the internet to extract information, it may threaten privacy and security at stake. Safeguarding privacy and security rules can be difficult to comply with, given that there are already a number a guidelines to be met.
4.6 Human Factors:
The primary aim of digital twin technologies is to aid humans to hasten the technological processes and decision-making processes. But a lot of that depends on the capacity of the operator or the human, to run the applications and fix the programs with utmost accuracy. If not done that way, the digital twin loses its credibility.
5. Digital Twins in the Past:
The idea of studying a physical object with the assistance of its digital duplicate may be traced to much earlier. In this regard, NASA was the one who initiated this process. They are said to have used it during their 1960s space exploration missions. They made a duplicate of each spacecraft that travelled into space. These duplicates were studied by NASA flight operators to track them.
This technology was put to use again during the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. This mission turned out for the worse and the people were trying their best to survive since the oxygen masks exploded on the tank. This led to the entire world holding their breath as the mission turned out to be a rescue mission, and the remaining crew was burdened to tackle this from 200,000 miles away. Since NASA had a duplicate on Earth of the Apollo 13, helped them study the situation and come up with solutions that would protect the spacecraft and the people.
Even though digital twins came about in 2002, they rose to actual prominence in 2017 and topped as the highest strategic technological trend. Presently, digital twins hold an essential place in the world due to their applications.
6. Digital twins in the Present:
Digital twins merge a number of technologies which include, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software algorithms to create a model that is based on a computer system, and can be used in place of physical objects. When used in the corporate area, this allows companies to go through a number of techniques including experimenting and creating without depending on the tangible product.
This process of replicating the system and presenting it allows the businesses to monitor upcoming issues, tackle them, and if necessary even adapt to the upcoming circumstances, and even practice improvements.
Digital twins play an influential role in the present industry which prioritizes data sharing, automation and connected manufacturing. They are able to monitor the kind of difficulties that may occur when a new product is introduced in the market. The employees are able to track the problems which may take place over the course of time and come up with solutions and ways to tackle them and avoid productivity.
In the present times, there are a lot of fields and areas that utilise the advantages of digital twin technology. These fields range from manufacturing, transport, education, healthcare, construction, smart cities etc.
In the manufacturing industry digital twin technology is used to reduce time consumption, and enhance the quality of the output. This digital representation can be used to keep track of real-time data, and experimentation, and perform predictive maintenance.
In the case of healthcare, this technology is used to come up with new forms of treatment, and personalised, medicines, that may experiment on the digital replica. This way the testers will be informed of the possible bodily reactions. Through this, people can also come up with advanced treatment mechanisms for deadly diseases.
Digital technology is used in this respect to collect and evaluate data and also traced to suggest and improvise improvements when necessary.
6.1.4 Smart Cities:
For urban planning and management, this technology is used to create a mimic version of the smart cities. With the layout and set-up, they plan what kind of structure will benefit the masses, and ensure proper allocation of resources, and sustainability.
6.1.5 Disaster Management:
The impact of global climate change has been disastrous. Through the digital twin technology, one can navigate the best possible measure to combat climate change and experiment with the kind of solutions that can be brought about to combat other kinds of natural disasters as well.
The above are just a few ways in which digital twin technology is utilised to its best capacity. Additionally, it is also used in fields where optimising, understanding, and breaking down complex formulas is necessary.
7. Digital Twins in the Future:
The industry at present is being dominated by assets like equipment and new techniques. This digital technology is being combined with physical bodies, to bring about the best outcome. One of the major elements in this process of change is digital twin technology.
The future with the onset of the digital twin technology will be at its best because it not only arises excitement among the masses but also promises a better and developed future ahead of us.
- The future will witness digital twins being have more connection with sensors, which will track real-time data, hence making the information collected through them even more accurate and trustworthy.
- With assistance from AI and other machine learning software, the technology will enhance itself and reach an advanced level of predictability and better performance.
- They will be utilized throughout the entire lifecycle of processes, assets, and other systems. Through this, they will continuously analyze and monitor real-time data, which will help them improve the designs and outcomes.
- This technology will also allow operators to work on it through collaboration. This will improve collaborative efforts, give rise to better decision-making, and integrate problem-solving skills across different organizations.
- In the times to come, we will witness digital twins in consolidation with Augmented Reality(AR) which will give rise to engaging experiences. Furthermore, AR will cover the virtual information in the physical world meticulously so that humans are able to interact with digital twins in their atmosphere.
- Digital twins will encourage sustainability with its processes through the optimisation of energy, proper handling of resources and its impact on the environment.
Generally, the future of digital twins is fulfilling and beneficial. They will ensure the smooth running of the industries, assist them in becoming more efficient, progress towards innovation and ensure making better decisions. With the advancement of technology, digital twins will become stronger and reach higher levels.
Digital twins have come to play a big role in the industry by impacting them for the better. They have processed ways in order to diminish the discrepancies that exist between the physical and the virtual world. The applications of digital twin technology range from healthcare, education, transportation, manufacturing, automobiles, and more. Through these, the technology provides a number of benefits too which help an operator run the software smoothly, and also push an existing business to higher levels. Along with benefits they have their own set of disadvantages too that may affect the processing of the technology which include privacy and security threats, complications due to human factors, etc. Moreover, the future promises us an advanced system of this technology aiding in a lot of fields and helping us the shaping the industry of that time. Therefore, digital twin technology will play a significant role in the future industry and enhance the technology scene at present.