Given the current hype around digital twins you may be surprised to hear that the concept has actually been around since 2002. So why all the fuss? Well thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), digital twins are becoming a reality because the concept is now far more cost-effective. In fact, by 2021, half of large industrial companies will use digital twins, according to Gartner.
Think of a digital twin as being exactly what the name suggests – it is a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. One can make a digital twin of anything from processes, people and places to systems and devices. By bridging the gap between the physical and the virtual world, data is transmitted seamlessly so that this virtual representation can stand as an entity on its own.
But what impact will these digital twins actually have?
Gartner named digital twins as one of its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017, noting that digital twins will represent billions of “things” within three to five years.
Digital twins add value to traditional analytics by enhancing situational awareness and enabling better predictive responses to changing conditions. This means that digital twins can reduce operating expenses by extending the life of products or assets and optimising performance.
Digital twins are being used today in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, energy, transportation and construction. To showcase how, we’ve found a few examples of digital twins in action. Take a look.
Digital twins in manufacturing: An industrial manufacturer was spending a great deal on maintenance and warranty liability due to numerous quality issues in the field. To address these issues, they pursued a digital twin approach. First, they combined the as-designed bill of materials (BOM) with the as-manufactured BOM. This allowed them to gain insights around variations production and figure out how this was affecting quality. The result? They improved their assembly quality and reduced rework by as much as 20%.
Digital twins in healthcare: General Electric is working with engineers in Helsinki to improve patient monitoring. They are currently working to create wireless tools capable of constantly streaming a patient’s heartbeat, blood pressure, respiration and other vital information into the cloud. This information is then analysed and doctors are alerted should any anomalies or issues be picked up. These sensors, that could one day be no larger than a Band-Aid, are effectively digital twins.
Digital twins allow businesses to truly reap the benefits of IoT. And as sensors, networks and analytics platforms improve, the scale of the insights garnered from digital twins will become more and more valuable. Keen to find out what other innovations may be changing your industry in years to come? Visit our blog or you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter below.