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. An asset can be a component, product, manufacturing process, system or group of systems such as a pump, wind turbine, car, bicycle or 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.

  1. Virtual Reality
  2. Augmented and Mixed Reality
  3. Internet of things
  4. Big Data
  5. Cloud Computing
  6. Machine Learning

How does Digital Twin Works ?

Digital Twin works by connecting real and virtual worlds using asset real time sensor. Real time sensor data is stored, analyzed and simulated in virtual copy of products. The virtual copy of the product is a mathematical model of the real product.

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

As shown in above image, car real time sensor data is send to cloud. This sensor data is used to create digital model or digital twin for the car. This car digital twin behaves in the similar way actual car does.

Car digital twin can be used to analyze the vehicle performance on various parameters by running various simulations in virtual world. This data is used by product designers to build more understanding on existing products and improve new products.

Digital Twin Technology Applications and Benefits

Digital twin technology can be applied in various industries at various levels of the product life cycle to analyze and improve the product performance. Following are the application examples of use of digital twin technology in various industries.

  1. Digital Twin in Continuous Engineering and Design
  2. Digital Twin in Manufacturing
    • Production Line and Machines Virt ual 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 and new products design. 

This image shows Digital twin implemented on mountain bike

As shown in above image, when digital twin technology is implemented on mountain bike. Engineers can get real time bike sensor data such as paddle and tire RPM, bike speed, load acting on bike, suspension deflection in bike digital model. Engineering teams can compare field results with simulation results to compare performance on road with the designed performance.

Benefits of Digital Twin in Product Design and Engineering

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

  1. Optimizing and improving existing and new products.
  2. Verify key design features in the digital world without building real prototypes. 
  3. What-If simulations.
  4. Reduced product time to the market.
  5. Root cause analysis.
  6. Reduced prototype cost
  7. Improved product design and reliability.
2. Digital Twin in Manufacturing

Digital twin in manufacturing can have following applications.

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

Digital-twin technology is used to commission and run the machines and production plant virtually. During design stage, engineers can verify their designs by virtually commissioning. This allows automation engineers to detect and solve the problems in the early design stage.

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

  • Reduced plant and machine commissioning cost.
  • Remote 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.

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).

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 that 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 also 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.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *