What is Digital Twin Technology and How does it Work?

Growth of machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0 has generated the need for real time data. This need is fulfilled by digital twin technology by utilizing technologies such as IoT, sensor technology big data and cloud computing. In this article we will discuss what is a digital twin technology and how it works? and digital twin applications with examples in various industries.

A digital twin is a digital representation or replica of any asset in the real world. Here an asset can be a component, product, manufacturing process, system or group of systems such as a pump, a wind turbine or a human being.

Digital twins are used to monitor and replicate the entire life cycle of assets. This helps in predicting the behavior of that asset in future. For example, when a digital model of a pump or turbine is created. Engineers can predict the future failures and improve designs accordingly. Following technologies are driving the growth of the digital twin technology.

How Digital Twin Technology Works ?

Digital Twin connects real and virtual worlds by collecting real time IoT connected asset sensor data. This real time sensor data is stored, analyzed and simulated in virtual copy of products. 

The virtual copy of a product is a mathematical model of the real product in the field. This simulation data is used to optimize the product performance and find future potential problems in the product.

Digital twin works by connecting real and virtual worlds by collecting real time sensor data using IoT connected sensors.
Working of Digital Twin

For example, A car digital model is created by getting real time car sensor data to the cloud. In cloud virtual cars or car digital twins behave in a similar way actual cars do. In this way, a car digital twin can be used to analyze the vehicle performance on various parameters. This analysis data is used by product designers to build more understanding on existing products and improve the future products.

Digital Twin Technology Application Examples with Benefits

Digital twin technology can be applied in following industries at various levels of the product life cycle to analyze and improve the product performance.

  1. Aerospace Industry
  2. Oil and Gas industry
  3. Healthcare
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Automotive
  6. Consumer Electronics
  7. Construction
Following are the examples of the use of digital twin technology in various industries.

  1. Continuous Engineering and Design
  2. Digital Twin in Manufacturing
    • Production Line and Machines Virtual Commissioning
    • Predictive Maintenance
  3. Patient digital Model in Healthcare Industry
  4. Hotel Industry
1. Product Design and Engineering

Digital twin technology is used for continuous engineering on existing products and the design of new products. Let’s consider an application example of the digital twin technology implemented on a vehicle on the road.

To improve vehicle performance. vehicles are equipped with process monitoring sensors. These sensors will send real time car data to the cloud. In cloud sensor data is fed to the car digital-twin model. Where engineering teams can use car digital-twin models to compare the car performance on road with the designed performance. 

This data can help product designers in improving the performance of their existing and future products. In this way engineers can verify key future design concepts in the digital world without building new prototypes. 

Benefits of Digital Twin in Product Design and Engineering  

Digital twin technology has the following benefits in product design and engineering.

  • What-If simulations.
  • Reduced product time to the market.
  • Root cause analysis.
  • Reduced prototype cost
  • Improved product design and reliability.
2. Digital Twin in Manufacturing

Digital twin can have following two major applications in manufacturing.

  1. Production line and Machines virtual commissioning.
  2. Predictive maintenance and remote diagnosis
2.1) Production Line and Machines Virtual Commissioning

By utilizing digital-twin technology engineers can commission and run the plant virtually without actually building it. This allows automation engineers to detect and solve the problems in the early design stage.

In this way Digital twin technology has following advantages in plant automation.

  • Reduced Commissioning Cost.
  • Remote Product Commissioning
  • Detecting and resolving problems at an early stage of design.
  • Accelerate Product Time to market,
  • Continuous improvement.
2.2) Predictive Maintenance and Remote Diagnosis

A machine digital model along with machine learning algorithms is used to monitor and predict the problem in a machine before it actually occurs. This also helps in diagnosing the problem remotely.

IoT send real time machine sensor data to cloud. From where Service Engineer can monitor and analyze real time machine sensor data (Vibration, temperature, pressure etc).

Therefore digital twin have the following advantages by predicting maintenance schedules.

  • Reduced Maintenance Cost.
  • Spare Parts inventory Management.
  • Reduced Downtime.
  • Increase reliability of assets on the production line by predictive maintenance schedules.
3. Digital Twin in Healthcare Industry

Digital twin is used in healthcare to create a patient digital model. A patient digital model is used to provide personalized healthcare to individual patients. For example, when a patient is diagnosed with heart disease. According to patient health conditions, doctors can prepare patient specific biophysical models. A patient specific biophysical model behaves in the same way a patient does. Doctors can simulate various scenarios on patient digital-twin.

Benefits of Digital Twin in Healthcare Industry

Implementing digital twins in the healthcare industry has the following benefits.

  • Real time patient monitoring.
  • Personalized healthcare.
  • Remote diagnosis.
  • Reduced cost.
4. Hotel Industry

Digital twin is also revolutionizing the hotel industry as well. Microsoft Azure smart hotel 360 is offering various solutions for the hotel industry. It allows hotel managers to manage complete hotel digitally online.

Microsoft Azure smart hotel 360 is offering various solution for hotel industry.
Microsoft Azure smart hotel 360

Using a hotel digital model, an authorized person can check how many rooms are occupied, what is electricity consumption, pending room cleaning work or maintenance work etc. In a smart hotel customer can check-in, check-out, place order and give feedback using a smart hotel app. It improves overall customer experience and saves cost.

Best Digital Twin Software

Following is the list of softwares providing digital twin solutions in manufacturing, design, testing and healthcare industry.

We will keep adding more information on What is digital twin technology, its working and applications. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions on digital twin technology in the comment box.

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