Apr 15, 2019

Anjan Kumar, Vice President, Sales, APAC & EU, AXISCADES shares his views on the Digital Twin Technology along with the benefits of using this technology in the manufacturing industry. Read on to know more…

1.   What is Digital Twin Technology?

The idea of digital twin has been a part of the ecosystem for almost 2 decades. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial IoT, Big Data Analytics and Internet of Things contribute to create a ‘Digital Twin’. Simply put a digital twin, is a virtual replica of physical devices that organizations can utilize to mimic the actual equipment both during the design and build and post deployment. Over the last few years, digital twin has become one of the biggest developments in the world of technology.

It is already being adopted in sectors such as manufacturing, construction and automotive. Businesses today are using digital twins to assess the performance of physical assets and then recognizing where improvements can be made in order to reach more effective outcomes. Maintenance, repair and operations are a phase in the product life cycle where engineers believe digital twins provide the greatest value.

According to Gartner, by 2022, over two-thirds of businesses that have implemented IoT will have deployed at least one digital twin technology in the production phase. Its adoption has gained pace as the technology provides tangible business value and has become crucial for organisations’ digital strategies.

2.    What are the core benefits of implementing digital twin technology in the manufacturing industry?

Enterprises today can take the benefit of data-driven decision-making for effective profitability and production. Incorporating computer vision, cognitive computing abilities, augmented reality/virtual reality and artificial intelligence will form digital twin which can perform predictive analysis, control processes and can even simulate tricky events. Using Digital twin technology, engineers are able to test and optimize the device and process setting for the upcoming production in the virtual world before the actual manufacturing.

The foremost advantage in implementing digital twin technology in the manufacturing industry is that the technology makes it possible to manufacture high-quality products. The building of expensive prototypes is replaced by a virtual template which is then tested and optimized. This process guarantees the production of a first-rate and sophisticated product before the physical manufacture.

Digital twin also assists the physical product during its entire lifecycle. Sensors that are built-in on the physical machine constantly transmit information to the clone in real-time. The digital twin examines all the information received and uses it constantly to improve the quality of products in the future. These sensors also allow for the implementation of predictive maintenance after the improvement procedures. The continuous transmission of data to the cloud allows manufacturers to detect any abnormalities with ease.

They can also decide when maintenance is required based on wear and tear. This helps in avoiding unexpected and expensive repairs. With the implementation of digital twin, businesses will be able to achieve tangible business value and return on investment effectively. Lowering costs in an organization begins from design stage up through serving functions while providing stakeholders crucial performance data.

3.    What are the potential business opportunities for providers of the digital twin technology in the manufacturing industry?

With industry 4.0 taking an uphill in the manufacturing sector, we will be able to witness a number of business opportunities coming in the way. In the next five years, there will be millions of equipments and devices represented by digital twins. These virtual prototypes of the physical world will lead to new collaboration opportunities among experts and data scientists whose jobs are to decode the data on operations. Manufacturing solution companies can leverage such opportunities to provide data-driven insights to the client companies to improve the effectiveness of the product or service.

Several providers of Digital twin technologies will partner with other technology providers to provide value-added services or for upgrading the existing digital twin service. Alternatively, they might as well look at integrating with other emerging technologies for related assets or equipments.

It also gives way to new opportunities for service-based solutions, some that are new services or others that are related to products and assets such as predictive maintenance. Digital twin-based predictive maintenance software uses real-time sensor data about working and health conditions of a device. It then examines it against historical records about the device’s failure and maintenance data collected from the enterprise.

For instance, one can add value by identifying and analyzing the current state of a product and assigning the right service to prevent downtime. Supply chain partners today benefit from a network of digital twins with effective visibility. If a device malfunctions, the maintenance provider knows it needs to prepare a team to fix the device. With digital twin technology, businesses can also build partnerships with companies that offer niche solutions to create innovative solutions and offering for various sectors.

4.            How do you perceive the development of this innovative technology in the coming years?

We are right now at the inception of the Digital Industrial era and Digital twin technology is at a stage of infancy. However, we are already witnessing a tremendous transformation in terms of technology.

The concept of devices talking and making decisions with each other will be revolutionary for how industrial systems are managed and operated in the future.

 There are possibilities that by 2030, there may be more than 50 billion machines connected to each other. We will possibly have digital representations of factories, personnel as well as processes which along with the digital twins of physical devices will provide an extensively precise demonstration of the physical world. This can further be used for analysis, control and simulation in a way that failures and abnormalities can be recreated virtually to gain improvements in terms of costs.

Digital Twin, as an innovative technology will provide huge opportunities in terms of people. The technology will be able to improve lives in two main areas – sports and medical health. The representation of a human body, including health data, weight, medical treatment data and activity tracking can help build predictive alerts and recommend people to healthier options and lifestyle. Data points from the software will provide better insights on the individual’s health. This will further help doctors to define preventive strategies thereby giving patients a precise recovery plan and shrink costs.

In the coming years, it will also find applications in sports with athletes able to design training programs for their needs in relation to their physical fitness level. The technology can also have a huge impact on an athlete’s performance by attaching badminton racquets, bats and other sport equipments with IoT sensors.

Therefore, digital twin technology will be a disrupter in various industries and will transform business models to a large extent. And eventually, the power of technology in networks, services and people will change how companies and businesses build, perform, foresee and mitigate.

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