Imagine a world where you can have a non-living physical entity with you that helps you out with all your needs. A digital twin refers to a digital replica of an actual physical asset like a process, a product, or a service. A digital system can be used to process, collect, deploy, and so much more. This pairing of a physical, as well as a virtual model, means great things for the world. It allows the analysis of a clot of critical data; it helps in monitoring of systems, it helps in predicting and resolving problems even before they occur and also plan for future tasks by way of running systematic simulations.
The whole idea of digital twins has been gaining weight in recent times because of the advancements in the field of the Internet of Things (IoT). With IoT helping build models of digital things, we can expect some of these in the market very soon.
How does IoT tie-up with the digital twin’s concept?
IoT consists of sensors, processors, and actuators. Any smart component will have a working sensor that is used to obtain real-time data and status updates about some parameters. These sensors are integrated with an item in the physical world to get data in the digital world. These sensors are connected to online cloud platforms that receive this data and perform a lot of analytics as processing.
With the emerging technologies that are being used in coherence with IoT, like Artificial Intelligence as well as Machine learning, it is expected that companies will start deploying digital twins for all critical decisions and data collection. Most of the analytics that is carried out in these cloud platforms are used to support business and bring them to new levels.
Are digital twins being used anywhere?
A working virtual environment is a boon for engineers. In many situations, it is impossible to test things that are not built for this world. For example, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has been building rovers and satellites that are to work in different conditions than on earth. Though some situations can be recreated artificially, like the terrain of the planets, not everything can. Things like repairing components on the international space station and so on require a lot of calculation even before they are carried out. In such situations, a digital twin can be very beneficial.
NASA usually builds a small prototype of what they want, most with sensors and actuators, and puts these to the test. The devices are subsequently manufactured only if they meet all the requirements that are prescribed, and the virtual environment tests have gone fine. Once the physical system has been built, they tie it with the virtual twin through an array of sensors so that the digital twin has all the information that is available on the physical twin.
What are some of the other applications of digital twins?
Digital twins can be used in almost every single sector to improve customer service, make better operational decisions, get better insights, and so on.
Some of the major applications of digital twins can be seen in the following sectors of commerce:
a. Automobile sector:
With cars and bikes getting smarted by the day, digital twins are in high demand in the automobile sector. They can be used to create a virtual model of a connected vehicle and made to capture the operation as well as behavioral data of the vehicle. This will help in analyzing the performance of the vehicle and help make the vehicle more effective. This will also help the automobile companies provide a more customized experience for customers.
b. Manufacturing sector:
The deployment of digital twins can change the whole way goods are manufactured. The digital twins will have a significant impact when it comes to the design of the products as well as the methods of how they are manufactured. These systems can help manufacturing units optimize their resources and bring in more profit. You can identify weak spots in the manufacturing process, techniques that give more errors, materials that are prone to become problematic later on. The ways of integrating a digital twin in the manufacturing sector are limitless.
c. Smart cities implementation:
When it comes to planning and implementing smart cities, the digital twin model can help the city planners as well as the policymakers of the city. These people can plan a better smart city with the data that they have gathered from various wireless sensor networks that are spread across the city. This crucial data will be able to help planners in planning not only for the current generation but also for future generations. This proper planning will reduce the need for building, demolishing, and rebuilding structures like bridges and flyovers across the entire city and also reduce the environmental impact that a modern city has on the environment.