Digital Twin Technology the era of visualization
Digital Twin Technology
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object which takes the consideration of real time data and is used to study operations of the physical object that is replicated. It uses sensors and networks for its purpose.
Originally, it was used by NASA during its space exploration missions in 1960s, when each of the spacecraft was replicated virtually in such a way that it would be easy to study its operations without performing any operations on the original spacecraft.
How does it work?
A digital twin is a virtual model intended to imitate a physical entity. The physical object which is to be studied is connected with sensors. These sensors are connected to servers. Sensors produce data about the operations and functionalities of physical object. A two-way flow of information takes place in digital twin technology.
Firstly, the sensors placed on the physical object send signal to the processor or the receiver. Once the data is gathered, it is sent back with the original object. The data is updated timely as the system usually works on real time data. Computations are made to create a virtual environment. This virtual model created is further used for studying the physical object.
Design of Digital Twin
Digital twin is designed by collecting information and generating computational models to test its working. It works by giving and receiving feedback from the operating object.
Following are the steps involved for the design of digital twin:
1. Data collection: Data is the most basic form of information required for creating a virtual model of the physical object. This data might include design specifications, equipment specifications, operation or production information.
2. Modelling the system: The gathered data is used to create computational and analytical models to show the behaviour of physical objects on virtual platform. These models can propose actions based on engineering imitations and other modelling concepts like machine learning, physics, statistics, etc.
3. Linking devices: The models formed are linked with other system objects such as sensors and other IoT devices for real time simulations. This is mostly used in factories where a sequence of work is done with the help of communication between various devices inline.
Characteristics of digital twins:
A digital twin can reprogram a physical object in a certain way even after being programmed once. This process can be manual as well as automatic. The reprogrammable nature of digital twins gives rise to advanced functionalities to the virtual model. This technique is mostly used automobile industries. Taking an example of car engines, digital twins can be used to collect data about the performance of the engine and if needed adjust the engine, creating a newer version of the product.
2. Network and connectivity
In order to be functional, digital twin technology should have good connectivity within the system as well as with the devices to which it is connected externally. Internet of things helps us to achieve a greater and efficient connectivity across the system. It helps with a strong connection between the physical object and its virtual model. Various sensors are used for this connectivity so that the data gets integrated and can be used by customers for better verification of the product. After manufacturing, the product has to be given constant servicing by the company which is responsible for the development of the product.
3. Digital footprints
Digital twin technologies leave digital traces which can be used by engineers to go back and check where a machine has malfunctioned or where the problem occurred. These diagnoses can also be used for future reference while designing the machine.
Due to the design and customization of digital twins the modularity in the product is seen. During manufacturing of the product, manufacturers gain the ability to tweak those models and technologies. The machines and their work can be tracked for seeking area of development. Better fitting components are introduced to improve the manufacturing process.
1. Scope for development: Since the data created using digital twin is more, it can always be used for research work. Once successful, it can be used for further development.
2. Better efficiency: Even after a new product has gone into production, digital twins can help in duplication and monitoring the production systems, to achieve and maintain high efficiency throughout the entire manufacturing process.
3. Enhanced life span: Digital twins can even help manufacturers decide what to do with products which cannot be used anymore. This hints at recycling the product. Materials drawn from the product can be determined using digital twin technologies.
5 Best applications in real-time.
1. Healthcare industry
In healthcare industry, the concept of digital twin is used for researching about prognostications. Lifestyle patters of a virtual patient can be studied along with their past medical history. These technologies make it possible to build personalized models for patients to keep a track of their health. It also helps in comparing patient’s records with the population.
Previously, the term ‘healthy’ was understood as absence of any disease. Now, ‘healthy’ patients are compared to the rest of the population to determine the wellness of an individual with other. This technology has got a major drawback in healthcare industry. It is costly to implement and hence gets unaffordable to the poor sections of the society.
2. Automobile industry
Another field in which digital twin technology is used is automobile industry. Digital twins in the automobile industry are realized by using existing data to ease processes and reduce marginal expenses. Nowadays, software-based solutions are incorporated in automobile industry. For analysing the driving of car in process, digital twin technology is used for getting suggestions regarding design of the car and increasing its lifecycle.
3. Manufacturing industry
Usually, the concept of product lifecycle management is used in manufacturing industry. It consists of design, manufacturing, service and operation stages. But this concept consumes a lot of time and hence reduces the efficiency of process and sustainability of the product. Hence digital twin is used as it consumes less time thereby increasing the efficiency of process.
With the use of Inter of Things, a digital footprint can be drawn of all the products and their stages from design till final development of product. Sensors and servers are used for real time data and communication between the systems. Digital twins are capable of predicting the future manufacturing process. With affordable computation and storage cost, it is becoming easy to accept new challenges relating to digital twin.
4. Construction industry
This usually includes the work done at construction sites in urban areas. The concept of Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) is used while constructing a building. This helps us to view the building in 3-dimensional space giving us a better idea of all the projections. It also helps us the need of physical inspections after natural calamities and if any causalities are found the systems are capable of reporting it by scanning the affected area.1