In this blog, I recommend the two best resources on the internet regarding digital twins and how they can improve production capacity and efficiency.
The Digital Twin (DT) concept is often allied to the Industry 4.0 movement. NASA first described the idea of a digital twin in 2011 as a complex flight simulation model. DT’s are now considered part of simulation-based systems engineering. One practical application of NASA’s digital twin model is the practice of conducting virtual missions before the actual flight launch.
In the flight simulation model of DT’s, the digital twin closely emulates the actual flying twin, allowing the analysis of potential future missions. NASA uses these mission simulation DTs to predicate flight and spacecraft behaviour in a multitude of scenarios. These simulations give mission managers important data regarding future mission outcomes. (Shafto et al. 2012)
A digital twin also represents a digital replica of a physical entity. The DT can be a virtual representation of an object obtained from real-time synchronisation on data collected from sensors. This synchronisation permits the twin to reflect the actual system’s status and allow real-time optimisations, decision-making, and predictive maintenance according to the sensed conditions.(Negri, Fumagalli and Macchi 2017) These replications have far-reaching impacts in the factory environment, allowing individual machines and whole processes to be optimised in a virtual setting.
There are two excellent resources for those wanting to know more about getting involved with digital twins.
- The DIGITbrain Project is an EU program to give Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) access to digital twin technology. The project aims to promote on-demand production capabilities within SME’s.
- A second excellent resource on digital twins is another EU initiative, the iBECOME project. iBECOME helps create digital twins to optimise the energy efficiency of buildings.
Both DIGITbrain and iBECOME are great starting points for companies wanting to find out more about digital twins and how they can impact their operations. Digital twins are more than just simulations. They allow for virtual modelling and testing of factories, factory components and the energy efficiency of buildings.
Negri, E., Fumagalli, L. and Macchi, M. 2017. A review of the roles of the digital twin in CPS-based production systems. Procedia Manufacturing, 11pp.939-948.
Shafto, M., Conroy, M., Doyle, R., Glaessgen, E., Kemp, C., LeMoigne, J. and Wang, L. 2012. Modelling, simulation, information technology & processing roadmap. National Aeronautics and Space Administration,