Do You Know What Digital Twins Are and Why They are Important?

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Before you think you might have a digital twin, this twin is of a different kind. In reality, they are virtual replicas of physical devices. IT pros and data scientists can use the digital twin if they want to run simulations instead of using the actual device. By using something digital, they can make the changes and adjustments before they build the actual device. They can create more what-ifs scenarios efficiently and economically. In the past, it was used in engineering and manufacturing.

Technology makes many things feasible, and some apps crossed borders, expanding their applications. Now, you have digital twins that are optimizing the potentials of analytics, AI and Internet of Things (IoT).

Defining the digital twin

The digital representation of a system or physical object is how you can define a digital twin. From small items, it can now be representations of very large items like cities, factories, and buildings. The idea for a digital twin from NASA. The space organization used to build full-scale mockups of their space capsules they use for testing and diagnostic inspections in orbit, which is a costly practice. Today, NASA does full digital simulations.

The term became more popular when Gartner, a global research and advisory company predicted in 2017 that it would become a huge tech trend by 2020 or 2022. In 2018, Gartner again said that digital twins will become a top trend as billions of connected sensors and endpoints will have digital twins.

In short, a digital twin is a computer program that gathers real-world data about a system or physical object. The program inputs the data and produces outputs that simulate or predict how inputs will affect the system or the physical object. You can say that it is a big boost to the digital transformation, although it is more about improving physical objects rather than introducing automation.

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How a digital twin works

Scientists who are specialists in applied mathematics or data science build a digital twin. They learn everything they need to know about the system or physical object they need to mimic. Afterwards, the program creates a mathematical model that is an exact copy of the original.

The twin receives input from sensors that gather data from the original. They use the digital twin to see how it performs according to the inputs it receives. The process allows them to look for potential problems and provide feedback when they refine the product. Likewise, they can use the digital twin as a prototype and check how the actual product will perform in real-time. Using a digital twin to tweak allows companies to improve processes, increase efficiency, and produce new business models before making the actual system or product.

Business applications of digital twins

Many industries and their different sectors are benefiting from digital twins. In manufacturing, digital twins work in product development, customization of design, predictive maintenance, automotive, aerospace, and shop floor performance maintenance.

Digital twins are also in healthcare where scientists are working on improving personalized care and operational efficiency of the sector’s operations. You can also find digital twins for the retail, construction, and supply chain industries.

Digital twins are a boon to IoT, helping improve devices and creating less complex and smaller objects that will be more efficient.  

Currently, the prediction is the digital twin market will reach $30.1 billion by 2025. Many companies are already operating in the digital twin market, including General Electric Company, IBM Corporation, PTC Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Ansys Inc., Siemens AG (Siemens Industry Software Inc.), SAP SE, Oracle Corporation, SWIM.AI Inc., and Robert Bosch GMBH. While most of the companies are in the U.S. and Germany, the highest growth of the digital twin market is going to be around the Asia Pacific Region.

Digital twins will be a major force to push innovation and performance. Digital twins will represent more things within a short period. It will be an impetus for more collaboration opportunities among data scientists and product experts in the physical world. With the innovations they can produce, you can expect consumer experience to increase and existing products, services, and operations to receive enhancements. It is likely digital twins can help create new businesses.