A digital twin is a digital representation of a process, product, or service.
Digital twins have been available for nearly two decades, but advances in technology, combined with lower cost points, has resulted in a renewed focus on the benefits of a digital twin strategy. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one advancement that has helped enhance the accuracy and benefits of a digital twin. IoT is a concept that allows businesses to easily install sensors on physical objects (machinery, products, etc.) to collect data. These sensors capture information such as working conditions, processing speeds, temperature, or pressure. Then, the sensors transmit that data to a cloud-based system that is leveraged to analyze and predict performance and/or behavior.
Digital twins provide businesses with a big-picture view of what’s happening in their physical products or manufacturing spaces. With this data, teams can:
- Identify problems before they become all-consuming
- Recognize potential efficiencies
- Plan for future improvements or opportunities
NASA is a prime source for digital twin examples. NASA has used digital twin technology for decades. Because NASA engineers can’t reach their machines in space, they install sensors in them. These sensors collect data that culminates in digital twins. NASA uses the digital twins to operate, monitor, repair, and plan improvements for their machines from afar.
Today, there are many other digital twin examples. For instance, digital twin manufacturing is popular. Smart factories hook sensors up to factory machinery so they can tell whether their equipment is functioning properly. When they notice inefficiencies, they have an opportunity to fix them, resulting in increased up-time. They also use digital twins for thorough testing by simulating various scenarios for enhanced future changes.
Industry leaders including, PTC and Ansys, have partnered to create a technology suite of products to help facilitate the realization of a seamless digital twin experience.
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