With an increasing trend of Internet Of Things(IoT) in every field, It has become extremely important for all the businesses and industries to implement it on their products, to gain a competitive edge over each other. Introducing IoT increases the development and manufacturing costs, to aid the interconnectivity of the systems. Digital Twin helps in reducing the cost of the development, in an Industrial IoT system, while assisting in improving the efficiency.

Industrial Internet of Things(IIoT) and Industry 4.0

Industrial Internet Of Things (IIoT) is the implementation of IoT technologies like sensor data, AI, machine learning on manufacturing and industrial processes. IIoT aims to improve the efficiency, accuracy, cost savings for the industries, by enabling faster acquisition of real-time data, so that it can be analyzed and feedbacks can be provided almost simultaneously. The application of IoT technology in the manufacturing industry lead to the fourth industrial revolution or known as Industry 4.0.
Thr first revolution started with the use of steam engines, Assembly-line mass production started the second revolution, Automation leading the third revolution, and IOT paved the way for the fourth revolution, with smart factories, that is based on cyber-physical systems(CPS) to deliver intelligent, smart, highly-flexible system.

Industry 4.0

Features of IIoT

  • Industrial Internet of Things(IIoT) enables predictive maintenance for the industries, allowing them to detect anomalies in machinery, by applying intelligent data analytics on the real-time data generated by IoT systems.
  • IIoT allows companies to track their assets, and manage conditions and status, to provide an optimal and efficient transport system and supply chain management, and informs them of any preventive measures, that needs to be taken, to avoid any damages to their products.
  • IIoT improves customer satisfaction, by helping manufacturers with usage analysis, so that can they can tailor their future goods, to increase their sales and deliver more customer-centric products.
  • With the help of IIoT, factories are now interconnected, making it easier for the industries to monitor all the factory machines globally, and avoid any bottlenecks, that can arise due to any unforeseeable reason, and take preventive measures to fix it. This enables better inventory management and quality control mechanism.

What is Digital Twin?

Digital twin is a visual representation of physical objects, with a continuous real-data flow using sensors, to allow manufacturers to analyze and run simulations virtually before the actual object is built and deployed. It saves cost, by avoiding/ reducing actual build iterations, while testing for all real-time scenarios digitally. It allows the user to capture not only the real-time data, but also store the historical data, for analyzing, and providing feedback, on how the system can be made efficient, and prevent defects, before going to the production stage, thus speeding up the whole design and build processes.

Digital twin turbine
Source: GE

Coined by Michael Grieves in 2002, on the formation of a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) center, Digital town is not a new concept relatively, but it is made cost-effective and practically applicable, with the help of IoT. Gartner named Digital twin as top 10 technological trend of 2017 and 2018, stating that, by next five years, billions of product will have digital trends.

“Digital twins are becoming a business imperative, covering the entire lifecycle of an asset or process and forming the foundation for connected products and services. Companies that fail to respond will be left behind.”

Thomas Kaiser, SAP Senior Vice President of IoT

Digital twin is created by collecting and analyzing physical data, along with manufacturing and production data, which is then processed by the AI-driven system to create a virtual model of the device. This virtual device is connected to the real device with the help of IoT sensors, also called as Digital thread, which streams holistic real-time data to the virtual system, which can be then analyzed to get meaningful insights of the actual device. It tracks all the actions of the system, including environment interactions such as temperature or internal wear and tear, thus enabling the decision-makers, to run real-life simulations on them, to test the functionality and durability of the system. For complex machines, it is very cost effective, as it allows you to analyze the system before it built, and all possible test cases can be run on the virtual environment, to determine its efficiency, and detect and weak spots, with the help of real-time data analytics, AI, and Machine learning. These sensor data, collected from the physical device helps in finding hidden inter-dependencies, allowing engineers to recalibrate according to the requirements, and predict future outcomes.

Digital twin combines the best of both the physical and virtual world, by providing an accurate visual representation of the real object and it’s development and production lifecycle, with its current and state, and possible future states, by analyzing its digital counterparts. This allows companies to have a better insight into product performance, benchmarks based on historical data, customer satisfaction, and operational functionalities in the real market. Many companies like IBM, Oracle have already started providing digital twin technology, as ‘device-as-a-service’ with their products, that will allow companies to build and test their IoT business model, before production.

 

Digital-Twin_cal-tek-software
Source: Cal-tek

 

Applications of Digital Twins

  1. Automobile: Digital twin allows automobile manufacturers to virtually test the engines and the whole vehicle for its performance and possible anomalies before it is built, so as it avoid late design changes, and give insights on next-generation engines and car models.
  2. Manufacturing: Digital twin facilitates efficient and optimized manufacturing designs, which reduces the throughput time while improving the whole development lifecycle.
  3. Retail: Customer Satisfaction plays a crucial role in the retail environment. Digital twin helps in creating a virtual twin of customers and displaying fashions on it, thus increasing the retail customer experience.
  4. Smart Cities: Virtual models are created for smart cities, which allows the builders to analyze the efficiency of the system, and provide insights on how to improve the system and energy management, to make it more sustainable.
  5. Healthcare: Using digital twin and IoT, a better-customized health care for patients can be provided, by implementing various treatments, on virtual twins, to analyze the interactions and reactions to it, before given to the real patient.

Conclusion

Since 2002, Digital twin has come a long way, and with its integrations with Industrial IoT, it provided a lot of beneficial applications, that will change the current business model (build first and tweak) to a whole set of virtual-based systems, that will be more efficient, and cost-effective, and soon, totally autonomous.

Read more about Digital Twin examples: