The Rise of the Digital Twin

The Rise of the Digital Twin

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a real world process or operation in real time. Real world data is collected and fed into the digital twin. The live model can be used for analysis, testing and prediction that could affect decision making in the real world. Digital twins can be used for product simulation or engineering or for entire facilities. The scale and scope can vary greatly depending on resources.

In 1995, the Hollywood movie Apollo 13 introduced us to the digital twin.  Based on the true story of the Apollo 13 mission, an explosion threatened the crew’s survival and a safe return to Earth. After the explosion, it was vital for NASA to be able to simulate the conditions in the spacecraft to find solutions for a variety of problems. NASA had already been using a digital twin model of Apollo 13 on Earth which gave engineers the opportunity to test solutions before sending them to be implemented in space by the astronauts. Real life on the spacecraft. Digital twin for testing on Earth.

Digital twins can be used in a variety of industries.

General Electric has been a pioneer of digital twins. According to the company’s website, it has developed 1.2 million digital twins for things like jet engines, wind-farms, oil rigs, pumps, compressors and chillers. The company has saved its customers $1.5 billion through the real-time monitoring capabilities of digital twins.

Chevron has deployed digital twins in its oil fields to predict maintenance problems. It will also be connecting sensors to high-value equipment and is expecting savings of millions of dollars a year.

McLaren is adopting state-of-the-art digital in its race cars. A Formula 1 car has 300 sensors generating about 150 GB of data over a race weekend. Using digital twin technology, the company has 50 engineers reviewing the data and monitoring performance.

Boeing uses digital twins to design aircraft. Simulations are run to predict performance of airplane components over the lifecycle of the product. According to the company, Boeing has achieved a 40% improvement rate in the first-time quality of parts using digital twins.

Siemens has employed a digital twin which produces industrial computer-control systems. The twin is used to design, test and simulate factory control units. When everything is working the digital twin, component is handed over to the factory for actual production. Siemens is using digital twin technology in several different aspects of its health business.

Digital twin technology has potential in nearly every industry. Modeling real life activity with a virtual representation can reduce the risk of operation and generate substantial improvements and innovation.