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Digital Twins: Simulating Products and Processes to Improve Quality and Design

By Dick Weisinger

A digital twin is the virtual representation of a real life product, object or process. The digital twin is used for test and simulation.  It makes it possible to track and simulate different conditions, dynamics and environment changes. The accuracy and ease with which digital twins can be tested and observed is found to be much better than field and condition monitoring. The use of a virtual or digital twin means that problems can be proactively identified and prevented, reducing downtime, and that more accurate planning for the future is possible.

Digital Twins are useful, for example, in the manufacturing industry.  A report by ABI Research finds that manufacturers see great potential in the use of digital twins.  The report found that 83 percent of manufacturers have started to investigate the technology and 29 percent plan to be trialing the use within the next year.  Research and Markets estimates that the global digital twin market will grow to $ 15.66 billion by 2023.

The use of digital twins also find use in the areas of workflow automation, quality of service measurements, CRM, and knowledge management.

John Vickers,  manager for Advanced Manufacturing at NASA, said that “the ultimate vision for the digital twin is to create, test and build our equipment in a virtual environment. Only when we get it to where it performs to our requirements do we physically manufacture it. We then want that physical build to tie back to its digital twin through sensors so that the digital twin contains all the information that we could have by inspecting the physical build.”

Pierce Owen, Principal Analyst at ABI Research, said that “the idea of pairing technology has existed for decades. Now, machine learning, advanced physics-based simulations and CAD modelling have expanded the advantages of digital twins to benefit use cases in all industries with high value or mission critical assets.”


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