Digital twin technology, which refers to the creation of a digital replica of a physical asset, has evolved. The concept is not a new one, but with advances in technology, digital twins can now represent specific processes, people, products, places, systems and services. The appearance of a digital twin can vary based on a myriad of defining parameters and characteristics from both past and present. Using simulated data patterns, it can even predict performance forecasting and maintenance scheduling for new and existing assets.
Digital twins are becoming imperative in the business world as they cover the entire asset lifecycle. Many different industries utilize digital twins, pairing physical objects with their digital counterparts to increase visibility and improve efficiency. Whether by using a single digital twin or multiple digital twins to create a living simulation environment, this formative IoT technology can optimize the operation and maintenance of machines, systems and manufacturing processes. The overarching goal is to connect the physical and digital worlds – people with machines – using real-time data in a dynamic and cost-effective way.
Digital twins can be created and used in conjunction with machine learning/AI, augmented reality and software analytics. Assets (or machines) are connected to a database by sensors and cloud-connected components. In its most traditional form, a digital twin is used as a registration/observation model in which it shadows or mimics the real-world version of itself. However, digital twin technology is becoming more advanced, representing unique physical objects and allowing the emergence of other, more unique digital twins.
Adding Insight to Improvement
Manufacturers may not have an immediate need for digital twins, but with the onset of Industry 4.0, these added insights could serve as a leg-up by improving machine output, overall product quality and predictive maintenance. In a recent article written for EBN, QAD’s Senior Director, R&D for Manufacturing & Supply Chain Solutions, Luc Janssen breaks down the digital twin concept and explains how it applies in a manufacturing environment. In one of his examples, he describes a digital twin of a machine press on a production line:
“For this press, the digital model contains the history of its past: the machine’s historical data and genealogy, where it was made, by which manufacturer, delivery date, etc. It then tracks the lifecycle history of the press: historical performance, what repairs were executed, and possible relocations and modifications.” – Luc Janssen
As we stand at the cusp of a digital twin technology explosion, we encourage manufacturers to do their research before deploying their own digital twins to gain a competitive advantage. Our goal at QAD is to work alongside our customers on the Industry 4.0 journey, building out advanced technology use cases and learning with them.
To find out more about the concept and purposes of digital twins, read the full story.