Challenges of creating digital twins are increasing exponentially, especially with the advancement of technologies like simulation, modeling, and data analysis, digital twins of objects and environments are increasingly becoming more accessible and adaptable across various industries. Furthermore, with the integration of Artificial Intelligence with Machine Learning & Deep Learning, digital twins will transform industries across different spectrums, including the manufacturing industry.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or FIR or Industry 4.0 in short, is the automation of traditional manufacturing, production & other related industries with the digital transformation of traditional practices through modern technologies. Thus, industry 4.0 will be the age of digital technologies. Machine to Machine communication (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will work together to enable automation, self-monitoring, real-time optimization, and the production industry’s revolution.
Digital twins will be at the forefront of Industry 4.0. With its power of rapid designing & development, iteration & optimization in almost every engineering process & practice, digital twins will enable new opportunities and possibilities. In addition, digital twins will transform various manufacturing & production processes, drastically reduce time & costs, optimize maintenance and reduce downtime.
While digital twin technology is not entirely new, its growth and adoption are skyrocketing across various industries in recent years, while the challenges of creating digital twins are also rising. As a result, the valuation of the global digital twin market was sitting at 5.4 billion US Dollars in 2020. Furthermore, although its market was experiencing a slump in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will undoubtedly recover and experience exponential growth again. Consequently, researchers expect that the global digital twin market will reach 63 billion US Dollars by 2027 while rising at the growth rate of 42.7% annually.
Over the last decade, the evolution of the manufacturing and production industry has been mainly focusing on reducing costs, increasing quality, becoming flexible, and reaching customer needs across the supply chain. The manufacturing industry is adopting different modern technologies to achieve these goals. Millennium digital technologies have also been part of this technology stack due to the innovation and opportunities it brings to the table.
Different companies and organizations are using twin tech accordingly in different scales and nature. Due to this, the technology in use varies across the industry, such that some industries use the latest bleeding-edge systems while others use legacy and proven techniques. Companies generally use the latest tech when it becomes available to use the latest features and functionalities. On the other hand, proven legacy systems are in use due to their stability and ease of use.
Likewise, different uses of twinning sims in various industries possess other challenges. Apart from this, integration technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, big data, and different approaches to digital twin integration will only increase the challenges for digital twins in terms of the sheer complexity of implementation. However, this also presents an enormous opportunity for industries to adopt and align these technologies to suit different needs to solve these complexities and challenges. Subsequently, companies like FS Studio solve the challenges of creating digital twins, providing a platform for the manufacturers or companies to work on without dealing with complexities.
Generally, the goal of any twin manufacturing is to create a twin or model of a real-world object in digital form. Furthermore, the aim is to make indistinguishable virtual digital twins from the actual physical object. Therefore, from the perspective of a manufacturer or a product development company, a digital twin technology will create an actual physical product experience in digital form. Hence, a digital twin for a product, object, or environment will consistently provide information and expertise throughout the whole product cycle.
A virtual twin can also serve companies for feedback collection alignment, useful for the product or the design team. Results from various tests may provide results that can be useful too. The design/engineering/manufacturing team can compile this information, feedback, and results for multiple purposes from the digital twin model. Furthermore, this compilation can also provide additional insights into the product, which can be very useful to tweak, change or even redesign the product entirely. This digital approach will consume much fewer resources, effort, and costs than the traditional physical approach. Moreover, these changes will also be reflected on the twin's systems instantly as the teams make these changes. This will ultimately allow crews to perform true real-time optimization of a product or a manufacturing process.
It will drastically improve the efficiency of designing and developing a product or a process. In addition, digital twins also enable higher flexibility across the overall design and development process. Furthermore, this flexibility comes at a lower cost and additional agility in manufacturing or product development. Hence, digital twin technology becomes very appealing for manufacturers and product developers due to these advantages and benefits.
One of the main challenges of creating digital twins remains to be the convergence of existing data, processes, and products in the digital form to be easily accessible and usable for the current or future teams in involvement. Moreover, such convergence may also change a company’s complete organizational structure from their R&D technology and product innovation to sales and promotion. Furthermore, incorporating technologies like IoT, the actual development of 2D or 3D models & simulations, and data analysis for consistent process, quality & authentic experience of the product remains a very complex process.
Apart from this, the actual use of digital twins created is also another challenge. The infrastructure and platform needed to use such digital twins are also essential, albeit complex, things to build. For example, suppose a team can create a car’s digital twin for a car manufacturer company. But problems with digital twins are that there is no actual use of the digital twin except for visualizing the vehicle. Even for proper visualization of the car across teams, different platforms and tools are necessary to often serve niche use cases of the company.
For instance, a car company needs a motor, brake, acceleration, air dynamics, and other niche simulations for the digital twin of their car. The technology stack should be able to perform various maneuvers a vehicle performs on the road. Aerodynamics and gravity simulation is a massive deal for car manufacturers. Integrating these simulations is also a monumental task.
Along with this, for the actual process of testing and developing products, the platform has to simulate various objects, environments, and conditions necessary for such functions. Alongside this, the platform should also be able to report errors & statistical data on simulations running while constantly monitoring and diagnosing the product during its testing or development. Collaboration between team members on the platform is also necessary for a large-scale company. Integration of Artificial Intelligence and technologies like Machine Learning and Deep Learning is also a very challenging task to accomplish.
Digital twin technology is also often associating itself with complementary technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The use of VR and AR in a digital twin platform will upgrade the realism and accuracy of the product experience. With realistic simulations and modeling in VR and AR’s capability to enhance a product experience, the 4.0 industry will incorporate these technologies at the forefront with digital twin technology, increasing the challenges of creating digital twins. Alongside this, integrating the digital twin with the actual physical manufacturing process is also a huge challenge.
Although companies will have to adopt this new industrial revolution 4.0 with digital twin-driven smart manufacturing, the overall process will not be that complex. The hard part is the convergence of different technologies to enable a platform for generating this digital twin and integrating it with the actual physical process in product development or manufacturing. However, since the digital twin simulation accurately represents the actual physical product, the product/manufacturing team will have almost no difficulty incorporating this digital twin tech in their physical process.
Therefore, companies like FS Studio help product developers and manufacturers to focus only on product development and design rather than the process of adoption of the digital twin. While different industries are transitioning towards Industry 4.0 technologies, various platforms and solutions establish themselves as leaders in cutting-edge technologies like the digital twin model with AR VR to eliminate the complexities present while the transition happens. It will help the companies and organizations focus on their primary and core goals instead of shifting their resources and concentrate on their growth to the next industrial revolution.
Realization of challenges for the convergence of technologies like IoT, design, and generation of 2D or 3D models & simulation and analysis of existing data remains. With this, the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and data analysis also pose challenges regarding automation, self-monitoring, and real-time optimization. Subsequently, corporations and manufacturers moving towards Industry 4.0 must place digital twin technology at its core.
It will help companies and organizations transition smoothly towards the industry 4.0 revolution, which incorporates product development and digital transformation. With the power of rapid design and development, new production and R&D innovation will take over the industry, reducing the challenges of creating digital twins in the transition to industry 4.0. Subsequently, with digital twin technology, industries across the spectrum will be growing exponentially in their move towards the next industrial revolution.
Simulation experts in industry 4.0 must have a passion for digital twin technology today for industry research. Digital Twin simulation is entering mainstream use as more industries are adopting this technology. According to Gartner's IoT implementation 2019 survey, 75% of organizations already use Digital Twin or plan to in a year. Notably, all the companies willing to adopt Digital Twin are implementing Internet-of-Things.
Digital Twinning is not a new technology. In 2002, Michael Grieves of the Florida Institute of Technology introduced the concept of Digital Twin publicly. In 2010, NASA showcased the first practical implementation of Digital Twinning to improve the physical model simulation of spacecraft.
We can see Digital Twin has been around for two decades now. Yet, many businesses are confused about the value of Digital Twin Technology. In addition, many companies don't know the use of Digital Twin in the modern energy, chemical, and process manufacturing industries.
Many companies still don't know that Digital Twin can enjoin the disconnected processes cutting out manual efforts that can be time-consuming.
For instance, interns or low-level employees will still follow the outdated method to gather engineering information. They would walk around one department to another to collect data required for engineering research.
Many engineers use CAD and PLM software and other sources to collect data to make informed design decisions. A few engineers are lucky enough to use enterprise search engines to pull information from various departments from hundreds of documents, folders, presentations, etc.
Now that we are entering the age of automation, companies must adapt to cultural change and access the right technology. They need to integrate technologies like Digital Twin to help teams gain information without any hassle. They also need to save employees from the pain of surfing through numerous record systems.
There are other reasons to consider Digital Twin to accelerate business innovation. Here we've discussed 3 of them below:
1) The Rapid build-up and expansion of data:
The business environment of the energy and chemical industries is already volatile. On top of that, the decision-making cycle is in an array across these industries due to piled-up data sources.
System Digital Twins made for entire plants, or factory systems can rescue energy and chemical industries. A massive amount of operational data can be collected, organized, and analyzed from various devices and products.
Human decisions are not rational, even if we make sound judgments after weighing evidence and assessing probabilities. It happens because the human brain tends to simplify information processing. So, cognitive biases, including memory and attention biases, influence human decision-making.
System digital twins can eliminate human bias for critical decision makings. System digital twins can also provide a single logical view of the actual situation based on evidence, probabilities, and analytics.
It is also essential that you know your needs before adopting Digital Twin Technology. Therefore, you must ask these three questions to ensure your success with Digital Twin:
2) What type of analytics should Industry players seek?
The factory systems and manufacturing plants involve complex processes today. So, measuring KPIs isn't easy now.
The digital twin can resolve this problem by providing deeper analytics from factory systems and plants, taking multi-dimensional factors and non-linear trade-offs into account.
The digital twin can build an accurate understanding of the future based on historical and present performances data. The digital twin can recommend the best strategies that can maximize profitability for the industries. Next, the experts will need to assess each recommendation and its impact to make the best decision for the businesses.
Therefore, industries can use the digital twin technology as a supporting tool to aid decisions enabling improved safety, reliability, and profitability.
3) Digital Twin Model Utility across the entire lifecycle of the asset:
Manufacturers use digital twins differently at each stage of the product development cycle.
Initially, manufacturers start working with Digital Twin Prototype or DTP. Then, manufacturers use DTP to design, analyze, and plan out the process to predict the future shape of the actual product.
In the next phase, manufacturers use Digital Twin Instance or DTI. DTI is the virtual twin of a physical asset. Developers will use DTI to run multiple tests and determine how the product will behave in different scenarios.
The DTI stays connected with the physical asset throughout its lifecycle. As a result, developers will add more operational data to improve it over time.
In the final phase, manufacturers will use Digital Twin Aggregate or DTA. Manufacturers use DTA to cross-examine the physical product, predictions, and learning based on the collected data from the previous phase.
People from engineering, operations, supply chain, shop floor even board room can look inside the assets and processes of the Digital Twin technology at every stage.
Companies integrate AI, machine learning, predictive analytics, etc., into the system with high hopes. They do it because they believe that digital transformation will cut out all the manual workload. However, when they realize that a lot of the work still depends on the human end, they get shocked.
Industries may have entered the automated age and have innovative IoT solutions at their disposal. However, automated systems cannot replace the human touch in many critical areas of business. For example, humans still need to implement and monitor automated systems in manufacturing plants.
Automation cannot replace other tasks like enhancing product design, building strategies, and growth roadmap, decision making, communicating with stakeholders, applying creativity to solve problems, etc. These areas will continue to need human intervention.
Companies need to set clear expectations when moving forward with the digital transformation of the assets.
The purpose of digital transformation and digital twin is to make the technical aspects of the job easier. In addition, Digital Twin technology will provide you the intelligence to help you focus your hard work on beneficial outputs.
Companies building Digital Twin Technology today are the pioneers of shaping the agile and intelligent industries of tomorrow. So, they need to develop the right digital twin platforms to leverage the full potential of digital transformation to create an exemplary model that others can follow.
The first steps will always be challenging. You can expect objections and hurdles to come your way. However, all these troubles are manageable if you know the proper ways to manage them.
Here is a brief guideline to follow for successful digital twin adoption in business:
To sum it up, digital twin adoption has the scope to attract more stakeholders' buy-in. Companies can show them the data-driven rewards based on concrete analysis instead of flawed predictions. So, the stakeholders will always have the know-how of the direction they are heeding with you.
"The true benefit of a digital twin: it gives you business intelligence to make better decisions in the future. It doesn't eliminate or minimize the work you're doing now, but it fundamentally changes what you're going to do next." - Former chief executive of Cambridge City Council, Andrew Grant
As we deduce the statement of Andrew Grant, it's a life lesson that industries have learned the most brutal way around the world after the Covid-19 shock. Thus, many enterprises are seriously considering the concept of Digital Twin and thinking big to expand it.
Companies are now interested in optimizing business operations based on the real-time insights gained from manufacturing plants and product use. As a result, they are more focused on satisfying orders, resolving root causes that are hindering growth, and maximizing factories' performance based on solid predictions.
We have already entered the age of automation as the 4.0 industrial revolution has begun. Today, companies maybe just interested in predictive maintenance. However, the use of Digital Twin Technology will expand where it will be integrated not for products but into manufacturing processes and entire factory systems.