Ever heard the term “Digital Twins”? Well, you might not if you are not directly associated with the industry 4.0 and IIoT. But if you are, you must be aware of the growing influence and impact this technology trend is having upon industrial processes, especially those which comes under the category of IIoT. Well, according to the easiest definition given by the Gartner, a digital twin is an actual digitalized virtual simulation of a real physical object. This can be anything: product, structure, system, process, etc. And what is more good? This digital twin technology is now applied to IoT-driven manufacturing where it is sworn to provide remarkable long-term benefits for industry 4.0 processes. How? Well, let me tell you in the easiest means.
A Brief History of Digital Twins Technology
Originated in 2002, or rather born, the digital twin concept was created by the University of Michigan’s Dr. Michael W. Grieves in a presentation on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) central. In this presentation, Dr. Grieves gave the initial shape to this concept which was known, at that time, as the “Conceptual Ideal for PLM.” It had all the major requirements for a digital twin: virtual location, real object target, virtual sub-spaces, structure to accommodate data from the real object to a virtual location, and finally the structure for informational flow between real object, virtual location, and virtual sub-spaces. The basic ideology is as follows:
“The premise driving the model was that each system consisted of two systems, the physical system that has always existed and a new virtual system that contained all of the information about the physical system. This meant that there was a mirroring or twinning of systems between what existed in real space to what existed in virtual space and vice versa.”
Origins of the Digital Twin Concept by Dr. Michael W. Grieves
Now that we have a basic understanding of what digital twins technology consists of, let us peep right onto knowing about the few major, but remarkable benefits it has to offer to IIoT and industry 4.0 processes.
How Will The Digital Twins Technology Benefit IIoT and Industry 4.0?
To begin with, let me directly tell you about some of the major areas of a business where the digital twins, along with IIoT, is going to make a huge impact:
- Highly optimized maintenance
- Asset management
- Cost efficiency
- Optimized automated manufacturing and data analytics
Now, to put things a bit simple, by using digital twins technology, you can create an exact replica of a highly complex real product, which will be powered by an IoT-driven virtual simulation, which you can analyze as you do in real-time, only this time you are doing your review in a virtual simulation without even moving from your place. But how this will help a business? Here’s how!
Suppose you are an automobile maker, and you wanted to make your automobile manufacturing and troubleshooting process a cost-efficient and reliably faster. IIoT and the digital twins will come to your aid when you can have the ability to double the process of quality checking by creating a virtual replica of an actual automobile, harnessing the analytical power of IoT-driven data, and improvise on the faults of your product, faster and more efficient, before they get into the market.
Plus, by installing digital twins and IIoT points in your business, you can create new real-time advance support services for your customers. For example, a product of yours that is installed at your customer’s facility has malfunctioned. You can literally digitize the procedure, and instead of sending down a repairman, you connect with your product via IoT manager and analyze all its problem on its virtual replica, powered by the digital twins model, as if you yourself are assisting on the spot in person. Doesn’t it save time, money, resources, and optimizes the whole manufacturing and after-sales service structure of the business? If there are still any doubts in your mind, then check this out:
“Gartner Survey Reveals Nearly Half of Organizations Implementing IoT Are Using or Plan to Use Digital Twin Initiatives in 2018”
I firmly believe that if a word or estimate comes from a reputable and trustworthy source (Gartner in this case) we should take that word or estimation bit seriously. Additionally, as we now know the impactful change which a combined IIoT and the digital twins is expected to make, it is only wise for industrial and IoT business owners to consider integrating the digital twins model into their business, so that they may reap the benefits as early as possible from this technology, which in the end, will lead to an established reputation and success.