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Digital Twin Technology
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical process or product. It’s used to gain a deeper understanding of the physical counterpart to predict performance characteristics.
Across industries, digital twins are used to simulate, predict and optimize products and production systems before companies invest in physical prototypes and assets. Digital twins combine multi-physics simulation, data analytics and machine learning capabilities to demonstrate the impact of various scenarios, environmental conditions and other variables.
For example, a digital twin could create a model representing how a product behaves when used. Including how much energy it will use or how much noise it will make.
Testing is a critical component of designing the right product that meets all performance targets and industry compliances. By creating a digital twin, you remove the need for developing physical prototypes as you can do all testing in simulation. This results in quicker development time and improved quality of the final product or process design.
Three types of Digital Twins
Product: Used to virtually validate product performance by representing how the product is currently working in the physical world. Product digital twins help you navigate complex systems and materials to design more efficient products.
Production: Used to help validate the efficiency of a manufacturing process before anything goes into production. Production digital twins help you optimize production and even predict when to do preventative maintenance.
Performance: Used to capture, analyze and act on operational data to make informed decisions. Performance digital twins help you improve system efficiency and models while creating new business opportunities.
Benefits of using Digital Twins
As digital twins become more capable, they’re being applied to many uses: from designing and testing products and processes to monitoring day-to-day operations and maintenance. Taking an integrated approach to engineering through the use of digital twins is beneficial across industries.
A few key benefits include
- ZFast-tracks innovation
- ZReduces production timelines
- ZCuts down overall lifecycle costs
- ZImproves quality of the final manufactured products
- ZAids in designing more efficient processes
- ZOptimizes designs to meet industry-specific standards
- ZEnables faster iterations in response to customer feedback
- ZLess material waste from multiple prototype developments
- ZOptimizes day-to-day performances
- ZEnables predictive maintenance
- ZHelps with planning for large-scale infrastructure changes
However, it’s important to note that adopting digital twins requires considerable investment, collaboration, and sustained commitment from all business functions affected. From revising criteria, workflows and feedback loops to tackling data-sharing, security and governance, leaders need to actively ensure that they’re making the best use of the technology. However, if done well, the long-term benefits are invaluable.
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