The term Digital Twin is becoming more and more popular. Digital twins have become a very practical solution for many industries, but they rely on high performance computing for it. Therefore, here we are going to see what this is and what it is used for, among other interesting details of this technology.
Index of contents
- What is a digital twin or Digital Twin?
- Types of digital twins
- History of digital twins
- Digital Twin Applications
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What is a digital twin or Digital Twin?
Well, perhaps when talking about digital twins or a Digital Twin you may be imagining something related to the world of gaming, perhaps virtual reality , or perhaps you are thinking about this:
But the truth is that it has nothing to do with this. When we talk about Digital Twin or digital twin, we are referring to a virtual representation of an object or system that is faithful to the real one. In this way, through simulation, data can be obtained in real time and technologies such as machine learning, among other techniques, can be used to accurately predict what can happen to the physical object.
In other words, the digital twin is a virtual model that accurately reflects the real one , such as an aircraft engine, a structure, an electronic component, a mechanical component, etc. In this way, data can be obtained from these objects and even simulate many scenarios, such as impacts or forces applied to the digital twin, adverse weather conditions, fatigue, etc.
In this way, the real model is not compromised when carrying out the simulations, but performance problems, possible failures, material wear, etc. can be predicted. All this information could be applied to the real model to prevent these inconveniences from happening.
Do not confuse a conventional simulation with a Digital Twin, since the simulation is just that, a simulation of something real. Whereas a digital twin is a richer replica for the studio.
On the other hand, simulations do not benefit from having real-time data from the real model . That is, with sensors installed in the real model and the combination with the simulation of the digital twin, much more valuable information can be obtained than what could happen to the original system.
For example , imagine an airplane engine. A Digital Twin of the engine is made and X hours of flight are simulated to find out if there could be wear of any material, breakage due to fatigue, failures, etc. In this way, before an accident occurs with the real plane, maintenance or replacement of the most sensitive parts can be carried out.
Types of digital twins
There are several types of digital twins depending on the level of expansion of the product, such as the following:
- Component or part cufflinks. They are the simplest and smallest example, such as a part of an engine.
- Asset Twins. When two or more components work together, they are called active. In this case, with a digital twin of assets, the interactions between both components can be simulated.
- System or unit twins. This is an even higher level, creating a replica of the complete system, that is, from the parts and components, to the assets, we now move on to sets of assets.
- Process cufflinks. Going one step further, in this type of Digital Twin we have several systems working together and interacting with each other, it is the most complex production that exists.
History of digital twins
It should be noted that the idea of the Digital Twin, or digital twin, first came up in 1991, in a Mirror Worlds publication by David Gelernter . However, the first application of the concept is credited to University of Michigan Fellow Dr. Michael Grieves, who applied it to manufacturing in 2002.
Finally, it was John Vickers, from NASA , who would introduce the term Digital Twin or digital twin in 2010. In addition, NASA itself had already devised the study of a physical object through virtualization long before, since the 1960s, when they used simulations for their spaceships, robots, etc., to try to predict possible problems that would occur during the missions.
Digital Twin Applications
As you can imagine, a digital twin has many applications beyond and within the IT industry. Some possible applications are:
- Improve R&D in research or development of more effective and reliable products.
- Improve the efficiency of the products produced or their manufacturing.
- Estimate product end of life accurately to avoid future problems.
And all this can be applied to a multitude of projects that can benefit from it, such as :
- Physically very large projects that are subject to strict engineering standards, such as buildings, bridges, etc.
- Complex mechanical projects, such as jet turbines, vehicle engines, aircraft, etc.
- Power equipment, such as transmission mechanisms.
- Manufacturing projects using digital twins to help optimize process efficiency, safety, quality, and how it all should work to lower costs and improve productivity.
That being said, this has applications in sectors such as:
- Systems engineer.
- Mechanical Engineering.
- Industrial sector (manufacturing).
- Architecture and urbanism.
- Public energy services.
- Health care services.
In fact, the digital twin market is constantly expanding, becoming more and more important, especially since 2020. This year it was established that the value of Digital Twin technologies could move about 3.1 billion dollars, while analysts expect this grow year after year, until reaching 48.2 billion in 2026 , according to estimates.
Companies like Siemens, IBM, etc., are already using these Digital Twin to improve, and more and more names will be added to the list.