At one time, you needed hand drawings or blueprints to plan new buildings and products, which took plenty of time and effort to create. In the digital age, planning for these items is much more flexible, as you can use digital twin technology to design "what if" scenarios before committing resources to the production of a project. The result of this modern form of risk management has helped businesses save time, money, and energy in planning.
Every inventor, architect, engineer, or designer changes their mind at some point in the middle of a project. Using digital twins makes it easier to make adjustments to get the job done faster and more in line with your revised goals. As the name suggests, a digital twin is a virtual model that simulates the real world.
Evolution of Digital Twins
The idea of digital twins began to surface in 2002 after Challenge Advisory hosted a technology presentation for Michael Grieves at the University of Michigan. This event focused on the development of a product lifecycle management center. Topics on the new concept included real space, virtual space, and how data and information are exchanged between the two areas.
In 2019, digital market researcher Gartner included digital twins in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends of the year. NASA currently uses the technology for visualizing innovations in vehicles and aircraft, and it can even be used to analyze equipment in space. In fact, NASA was an early pioneer in formulating the idea of pairing technology that led to digital twins during the Apollo 13 mission.
What Exactly Is Digital Twin Technology?
The purpose of digital twins is to use virtual models of products, services, and processes to determine the most efficient ways to produce the real-world versions they represent. The Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated the technology's advancement and created a bridge between physical and digital worlds to allow for greater efficiency.
A key function of this technology is to facilitate analysis of the virtual and physical worlds based on data monitoring. This pairing mitigates problems before they occur, such as preventing downtime. It also has the potential to open doors for new imaginative opportunities.
How Do Digital Twins Work?
Product data and manufacturing data are fed through machine learning software as AI algorithms and analytics converge to generate a virtual model of the product. Analysts can then figure out ways to make the product and manufacturing process more efficient. Virtual models essentially serve as new starting points for developing a more cost-efficient product.
What Digital Twins Are Used For
- Manufacturing Plants - Factories can use digital twins to streamline the manufacturing process by cutting waste and costs while saving time.
- Automotive Services - Digital twins track operational data of vehicle performance to help deliver a personalized experience for customers.
- Healthcare Organizations - Personalization and patient monitoring can be enhanced using a combination of IoT devices and digital twins.
- Retailers - Stores can use this technology to create a virtual model of a product as well as store planning to study new marketing concepts.
- Smart Cities - With digital twins, you can plan the layout of a smart city for a large community consisting of homes, buildings, and roads, all integrated with IoT sensors. It's useful for government officials and engineers to implement an infrastructure with interconnected smart technology to help monitor HVAC systems, the environment, and building stress.