With the evolution of simulations and 3D tech, innovative technologies are starting to emerge. Digital Twin is an emergent technology gaining massive momentum in the industry. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution comes closer, digital twins’ technologies are maturing and evolving rapidly, increasing the utilization of practical applications of digital twins.
Moreover, with the incorporation of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), or Big Data, companies are converging digital twin technology with emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). As a result, it enables rapid design and development and allows smart solutions in production, sales, logistics, and the global supply chain.
Digital twins are a massive boon for rapid prototyping during the design and development of a product. Furthermore, due to the ability to enhance current manufacturing & product development, industries worldwide are incorporating digital twin technology in their business, product development, and even consumer experience. The current global digital twin market sits at 5.4 Billion US Dollars, but this slump is due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down many industries and production along with it. As a result, the world was simply not ready to adopt it rapidly.
However, with adaptation, digital twin technology is rapidly rising in applicability and usability and increasing accessibility even at the end-user side. With this in hindsight, researchers predict that the global digital twin market will cross 63 Billion US dollars by 2027. This estimation shows a high annual growth rate of 42.7%. Furthermore, it shows that the market, industries, and even consumers are moving towards the much-awaited digital transformation of Industry 4.0.
Read more: Reduce Costs with IoT and Digital Twins
To understand the practical applications of digital twins, we first have to understand the technology itself.
Know Your Technology: Digital Twins
Digital twins technology is evolving in both its technological reach/sophistication and its meaning. While the idea of digital twins is not new, it is undoubtedly going through a massive revelation in the industry currently. Furthermore, with technologies like 3D models, simulations are rising. As a result, digital twins are also gaining momentum in the industry.
The digital twin accurately represents a real-world physical object or an environment in a digital form. Do not confuse digital twins with 3D models or simulations. It is much more than that. Digital twins represent a subject (any object in the real world) not just in a static manner but in a dynamic way. It means that the digital twin will always represent the product/object throughout its lifecycle. The twin always reflects any change or modification on the real-world object or vice versa, in which the real-world object demonstrates a shift in the digital twin.
While 3D models just simulate some properties and structure of an object, the digital twin represents and accurately reflects all properties and characteristics of the real world. From design, materials, behaviors, and properties, the digital twin represents them all. So it becomes easier to reflect changes of both the digital twin and the real object. Furthermore, it remains accurate throughout the whole design phase, developmental phase, prototyping, or even after production for maintenance or repair, effectively reflecting all stages of a product.
Furthermore, unlike a 3D model, which is just an informational model, digital twins react and behave in a certain way similar to the real object in different environments and conditions. Due to this, the digital model is more dynamic and adaptive. Moreover, with AI at its core, digital twin technology enables communication, updating, and even learnability similarly to its real-world counterpart through the exchange of data among each other.
With technologies like AI with ML or data analysis, digital twins are becoming more accurate and smart. It also enables more flexible product phases for the design and development of a product. They help product developers explore different solutions freely without concerns relating to physical material costs or loss. Companies worldwide are rapidly adopting digital twin technology, enabling various applications and use cases to arm themselves with this type of revolutionary technology.
Here, we list some of these potential uses and practical applications of digital twins technology as shared by 13 different tech experts of the Forbes Technology Council.
1. To calculate product performance statistics and measures
Michael Campbell from PTC shares that with innovations enabling digital twins to be a comprehensive digital equivalent of a product or process in the real world, product developers or manufacturers can understand how the product is in use or performing. They can even track if the product or supply line may break down or is low in supplies. Campbell remarks that all this can lead to a better experience for the end consumer.
2. Simulating complex manufacturing scenarios
Eugene Khazin from Prime TSR remarks that digital twins have great use in the form of a precise virtual representation of a production supply chain. It will use advanced analytics and machine learning systems to predict and simulate different complex “what-if” scenarios without running these in actual production. As a result, manufacturers and production sites will utilize resources more efficiently and accurately to increase product quality.
3. Removing risks from different experimentations and analysis
Kathleen Brunner from Acumen Analytics Inc states that digital twin technology is a game-changer saying that it can eliminate the need to perform various experiments and studies with actual equipment or processes. Digital twins offline can enable multiple investigations of various complex and what-if analyses of different scenarios. Practical applications of digital twins allow optimization of other parameters and outputs with a digital representation or replica interface that responds to human and environmental inputs. These digital experiments significantly de-risks these physical experimentations by deeming them unnecessary.
4. Improving software products
Vince Padua from Axway explains that one way for the practical application of digital twins is to leverage actual customer usage data. This data can improve enterprise software products through its analysis. The data collection can include whether users are using a particular feature and how they receive notifications or collaborate with other users. Developers can create a digital twin of the customer experience using this data, while Artificial Intelligence can determine and predict the fastest and most efficient ways to solve various issues.
5. Real-Time information sharing and analysis
Gerald Rousselle from One Concern shares that digital twins can produce new functionalities since they represent the physical world in a form that computers can understand. He says that a GPS in mobile can be a digital twin of the natural world to provide accurate and real-time direction and navigations to your destinations.
6. Creating valuable digital assets
Ghufran Shah from Metsi Technologies Ltd explains that there is a lot of hype around cryptocurrency and non-fungible assets/tokens or NFTs. He clarifies that NFTs are a way to represent a physical asset such as a picture, video, or even a music clip in a digital format. Once a physical object is mapped into an NFT, a unique identity of this asset can now live forever within the blockchain. These assets can even gain monetary value and become valuable collectible.
7. Facilitating hybrid teaching methods
Zeng Fan from the University of Miami Herbert Business School says that the schools and universities are equipping classrooms to accommodate virtual conferencing tech for virtual teaching due to the pandemic. This technology is similar to one of the practical applications of digital twins, face-to-face and digital/virtual class deliveries. This technology can also be in use for recording asynchronous digital course content.
8. Improving vehicle safety
Stefan Kalb from Self Engine explains that it's costly to use real cars and crash test dummies to get actual life data about car crashes, potentially saving lives. If digital twins technology is used, it can collect sensor data from inside a car as in the real world. This data, over time, can go through analysis and study and perform numerous cost-effective and efficient car crash simulations. These simulations can provide data that can improve the safety of real-live cars.
9. Supporting sustainable clothing practices
Julia Dietmar from Vue.ai explains that an excellent example of digital twin technology can be a “digital passport” for different pieces of clothes that are manufactured. Such “passports” can contain various information such as product attributes, raw materials, factory information, and even previous owner information. It can prove to be very useful for sustainable clothing practices.
10. Collecting and providing input for databases
Vitaly Kleban from Everynet says that the lack of ML and data analytics data is a genuine concern, even putting multimillion-dollar investments at risk. But digital twins can serve as an interface between real-world hardware and sensors to collect data from the physical world. The practical applications of digital twins can even prove to be a key to providing enough data for ML systems.
11. Preventing sports injuries and enhancing athletic performance
Laurie McGraw from AMA explains that the NFL has a digital twin for every player through field cameras and sensors. It can recreate every move or body posture of the players. This level of sophistication has huge potential regarding injury prevention and even improving player and game performances. These types of data and information can prove to be very useful for more than just elite athletes.
12. Providing personal assistance
Kerrie Hoffman from getting Digital Velocity and Focal Point Business Coaching state that smartphones are already digital twins of every person. Smartphones are already acting as our digital twins since they provide various functionalities like “Swipe to Pay '' when entering a coffee joint or providing alternate routes when there is a traffic jam ahead.
13. Optimizing traffic flows
Joaquin Lippincott from Metal Toad explains that practical applications of digital twins in the transportation sector are enormous. With smart vehicles and smart cities, planning and real-time adjustments to traffic are possible, optimizing traffic flows and saving time. Such technology may be dangerous, but we can test, optimize, and later implement such technology much more safely with digital twins.
Digital Twin decarbonizes the energy systems by bringing all technologies together. The virtual twin can model energy flows and changes of variables in real-time.
Initially, designers and engineers used it to build prototypes of new products, but it proved to have more practical uses. Moreover, integrating the Internet of Things and AI has strengthened it to carry out multiple tasks.
Digital Twin can model a raft of internally connected systems through big data analytics. So, Digital twin can aid the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouses gases released into the earth's atmosphere.
Digital Twin can map out all the aspects of the energy systems to help with decarbonization. Starting from electrical production to distribution losses and localized demand, it would lay out the whole system in the virtual environment.
The use of Digital Twin is expanding as we are developing the technology to be more effective with time. For example, it has proven effective in energy management, electrically powered public transport infrastructure management, and sector coupling.
It is not possible to derive the best outcomes from the Digital Twin without knowing the factors. Therefore, one needs to know these factors below to decarbonize the energy systems without failure with Digital Twin.
Get Digital Twin Experts on Board:
When you are up for decarbonization of energy systems, you'll need technical know-how. So we are expecting that your in-house talents already possess the understanding of electrical generation, supply, and distribution.
Next, you will need a more profound working knowledge of Digital Twin to use this for the digital decarbonization of energy systems.
You must have a clear understanding of building digital twins aligned with each phase of the decarbonization process. Additionally, you need to know how to deal with data modeling and intelligent data technology to make digital twin work for you.
It's better to outsource the Digital Twin project to experts if you lack the in-house skills needed to make this project successful. Companies have to deal with the unique sets of challenges of building and deploying a digital twin.
Digital Twin is a framework for building a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Therefore, you must satisfy a range of requirements to develop and deploy virtual twins successfully, including:
The biggest challenge of deploying a digital twin is that it shares the same characteristics as the physical entity. The Digital Twin (DT) decarbonizes the energy systems better if the team can deal with the challenges below:
Make use of your best Datasets:
Preparing the data set should be the next step in your list before building the digital twin.
We're living in the big data age where high-quality data sets are crucial to success. Feed high-quality data into the Digital Twin and you can expect fantastic outcomes. Feed trash into the twin system and the result will be the other way round.
To sum it up, it means that you need to clean up, gather and structure data sets to set up the twin system. Also, cross-check the Data's relevancy in real-world settings to ensure you will be feeding high-quality sensible data into the twin system.
When you are swamped with data and need to analyze different sets for different purposes, it adds complexity.
For instance, analyzing meteorological data like temperature, dew point, wind direction, and speed next to electrical consumption in buildings from photovoltaic, solar thermal, and hydropower plants at locations worldwide can become messy.
In brief, you'll need to combine patience and years of professional experience to locate, collect and prepare the best data sets.
Digital Twin Decarbonizes the Energy Systems Better if You Avoid Preconceptions About Model or Configuration:
Start building and deploying Digital Twin with an open mind. Don't keep any preconceived notions about which specific model or design will work for your program.
Keeping an open mind will give you the flexibility to draw the best model and configuration from a variety of ideas and solutions.
Your digital twin will end up with average quality outcomes if you have a preconceived technological pathway and follow it.
Examine all the possible solutions to decarbonization before going with one specific approach. In this way, you can make the best out of the digital modeling and AI computing calculations and stats.
Adopt Digital Twin for the whole system:
Before starting your digital twin program, you must figure out the pathway to optimize the entire energy system.
You'll need to conduct an end-to-end analysis of the initial situation and the entire technological framework conditions. Digital Twin decarbonizes the energy systems better if you consider the parameters below of each site individually for decarbonization of the energy system:
Prepare the decarbonization strategy before jumping into the program:
You must set clear goals before starting the decarbonization program with the digital twin. Digital Twin decarbonizes the energy systems better if these factors are implemented:
Don't look for Instant success:
It's not possible to achieve success within a short period with digital decarbonization as it's a high multi-dimensional program.
The digital twinning of the energy system will need care because it's a complex model. So, building the model may take a few weeks to months, depending on the size of the venture. Also, onboarding the right people for the fieldwork and synchronizing all the steps together cannot happen overnight.
How Digital Decarbonization can Change the World?
Digital Twin decarbonizes the energy systems in a different class when you apply a tactical approach. Reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere will help climate change and keep our earth greener. Both the private and public sectors will feel the impact of using digital twins in decarbonization.
Adopting decarbonization applies mainly to the utility sector. However, other high energy demanding sectors such as the chemical industries should think about it as well.
We cannot deny that buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of all current carbon emissions. So, digital decarbonization of energy systems can make a massive difference to the climate of tomorrow.
However, the question may arise: Is decarbonization possible?
Digital decarbonization would be hard to implement but not impossible to achieve. We can reduce indirect carbon emissions through electrification and clean energy only. It is hard to control direct carbon emissions. So, we cannot deny that heavy industries would still be responsible for at least 20% of GHG emissions.
Digitalization of industries has already begun. So, companies that won't embrace modern trends like digital decarbonization processes will be left out. Decarbonization and digitalization are getting popular. As a result, industries have to switch from their traditional business models to stay relevant.
Every company must adopt the digital decarbonization process. At present, businesses are in a situation where they need to decide on a sustainability strategy that will work from the economic perspective. To do that, they must transform into a lower-carbon business model company.
Suddenly, this change of direction cannot take place overnight. Therefore, cooperation between industries is required to implement a lower-carbon business model. The enterprises will need to review climate strategy, set measurable goals, and clearly define their action plans. They will also need to assess their performance from time to time and optimize as necessary.
Adopting digital decarbonization can benefit industries in many ways. For example, businesses can run cost-efficient systems designed for specific localities when Digital Twin decarbonizes the energy systems.
Digital decarbonization can aid district heating systems and energy storage management systems of the community. In addition, it can help to increase the capacity of electric vehicle charging stations while ensuring saving potentials in environments. Moreover, digital decarbonization can reduce electricity waste and daily operational costs.
Businesses that adopt digital decarbonization will gain the rewards of CSR too. First, they will achieve better brand recognition as environmentally friendly companies. It, in turn, will strengthen their brand image among the public.
Therefore, implementing Digital Decarbonization is a win-win situation for businesses, our environment, and society.