Today, mainly thanks to the IoT (Internet of Things) technology, digital twins are more and more common. They help companies understand utilized solutions and devices more thoroughly and improve them. All of that in a safe, effective, and cost-rational way. But what exactly a digital twin is? And how can this technology enhance modern business? It’s time to find out. And, to make it more understandable, we are going to show you some of the most exciting digital twin examples.
It’s the very first time we write about digital twins on Addepto’s blog. That’s why we want to introduce this technology first and show you all the benefits it entails for the present-day organizations. Next, we are going to show you some of the most interesting digital twin examples. Let’s cut straight to the chase.
What is a digital twin?
In one sentence, a digital twin is an exact digital replica of something in the physical world. In other words, you can, so to say, transfer your physical object or a device and create its online, digital version. What for? We will get back to this part a bit later in the text.
You will find many various definitions of digital twin technology. We especially like this one, coined by Bolton, McColl-Kennedy, Cheung, Gallen, Orsingher, Witell & Zaki in 2018:
“[Digital twin is] a dynamic virtual representation of a physical object or system across its lifecycle, using real-time data to enable understanding, learning, and reasoning.”
The Internet of Things was the milestone that made this technology accessible. You see, in order to create a digital twin, you need IoT sensors that gather data from the physical appliances and devices and send it to the computer to reconstruct and analyze it. If you’d like to read some more about IoT, go straight to the article about the digital transformation technologies.
The constructed digital twin can receive input from the IoT sensors that are gathering data. Therefore, it can simulate the physical object in real-time, measure the performance, and determine potential problems.
IDC predicts that by 2020, 30% of Global 2000 companies will be using digital twins data to improve the product development process.
Why do companies need digital twins?
Shortly–to improve their solutions. So, you see, a digital twin duplicates what happens in the real world. For instance, digital twin technology allows you to get priceless insights about improving operations, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or discovering issues or glitches before they happen. And all of that without the real-world consequences!
As a result, the company can study their product/solution, analyze it thoroughly, and then apply their discoveries to the original system before it reaches the market. This way, companies can reduce risk and get a much more profitable ROI. Indeed, digital twin technology significantly improves the R&D stage of every new product.
However, that’s the theory. But how are digital twins utilized in the real world? Let’s take a closer look at the most common applications:
DIGITAL TWINS IMPROVE PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS
As you already know, digital twins can help companies understand how their products/devices work. Moreover, this technology can also help us understand how they will work in the future, or what maintenance will be indispensable. As a result, a company can “predict” that after, let’s say, half a year, one of the crucial elements can fail. As a result, the producer can take necessary measures in order to improve it before launch. Moreover, the analysis of a digital twin may indicate the need for additional maintenance. So, if such a recommendation is placed in the user manual, the manufacturer decreases the likelihood of damage.
All in all–this technology help companies improve their products, not just today, but also in the future.
REMOTE TROUBLESHOOTING AND REPAIRS
Let’s say there is a company that makes a digital twin of their every product. Such an approach could come in handy when it comes to troubleshooting and potential repairs. Today, if your computer breaks down, you have three options:
- You can call the tech support and hope for the best
- You can take your computer to the computer-repair point
- Or you can call someone to come to your home and try to fix it
Imagine the same problem with the computer that has the digital twin. You also have to call the tech support, but now, the consultant can interact with your computer’s digital twin, find the real cause of your problems, and fix it remotely.
Moreover, the tech support consultant can use a digital twin to guide the on-site technician exactly how to repair a given device model. As a result, the repair takes less time and is much more straightforward.
NEW EMPLOYEES TRAINING
Many high-tech and manufacturing companies operate using complicated and expensive tools and instruments. Creating a digital twin of that equipment can help new employees get acquainted with it without the risk of any damage.
The essential thing is that such training is nothing short of the real-world one conducted in the factory or a lab.
In our article about computer vision, we told you that this technology could be used to enhance various on-site inspections. The digital twin technology offers the same possibility. All the oil and gas platforms, wind farms, chemical factories, petroleum refineries, and even nuclear power plants operate based on tons of various sensors and measurements. With the digital twin technology, companies can monitor all of these sensors without the need to conduct on-site inspections, regardless of the location.
The most recognizable digital twin implementation examples
You now know what the digital twin technology is all about. It’s time to examine some of the real-life digital twin examples. We will show you digital twin examples originating from various sectors and industries to show you how versatile this technology is.
DIGITAL TWIN EXAMPLES: NASA
Did you know that Apollo 13 was most likely the very first digital twin example? Of course, no one was using the digital twin term at that time, but in its essence, this was the way NASA engineers and specialists determined how to help the Apollo 13 mission. NASA used the state-of-the-art telecommunications technology to stay in touch with the spacecraft. The obtained data was used to modify the simulators on Earth to reflect the condition of the spacecraft. If you are interested in this tremendous history, we advise you to read this article on the Siemens’ blog.
Today, digital twins are used at NASA to explore next-generation vehicles and aircrafts.
DIGITAL TWIN EXAMPLES: CHEVRON
Digital twins can give a real-time view of what’s happening with equipment or other physical elements. Let’s take a look at one of the digital twin manufacturing examples.
Manufacturing companies like Chevron utilize this technology to reduce maintenance issues and ensure optimal production. In late 2019, Chevron published on their Facebook page a short post explaining that “digital twins technology helps our workforce by creating digital 3D models of what’s underground. This tech makes energy jobs safer and more efficient by predicting faults and preventing machine failure.”
DIGITAL TWIN EXAMPLES: FORMULA 1
Did you know that when the McLaren F1 team races in Monaco or Singapore, their car has hundreds of the IoT sensors that send feedback directly to Woking in England? This is where McLaren’s analysts study that data and use complex AI models to devise and send the optimal race strategy back to the driver.
Furthermore, the same technology is utilized to help F1 drivers improve their skills. The high-tech simulators help the driver and the car team alike because, thanks to them, they know what adjustments can improve performance.
DIGITAL TWIN EXAMPLES: SINGAPORE
As we’ve already mentioned the city-state of Singapore, we cannot pass over their innovative 3D modeling system called Virtual Singapore. As the SmartCityLab reports, Virtual Singapore offers “3D semantic modeling, in which the meaning of data can be related to the real world, displaying land attributes or the characteristics of different forms of transport, or the components of buildings and infrastructures”. But this system is far more extensive. It comprises real-time data about:
So yes, essentially it’s a cutting-edge Sim City in the real world! What is this technology used for? There are a few crucial digital twin use cases:
- Designing pedestrian crossings and bridges
- Improving the accessibility of specific areas
- Real-time city monitoring
- Simulating emergency situations
And we can expect that there will be many more applications in the coming years.
DIGITAL TWIN EXAMPLES: TESLA
That’s the last digital twin example we have for you today. Did you know that Tesla creates a digital twin of every car they sell? Tesla uses this technology to offer a better customer experience and reliability. Moreover, they update digital twin software based on individual vehicle’s sensor data and upload updates straight into the car’s system. Everything happens smoothly and effectively. The customer doesn’t have to lose time, and the manufacturer has better insight into their products.
As you can see, digital twin technology offers great potential. Granted, this technology is still a novelty, so we can expect to see its rapid development in the coming years. In short, one thing is sure. Digital twins will shortly be a worldwide standard that will improve thousands of products and devices. After all, it happens already!
So, if you are interested in any AI-related solutions, such as IoT and the digital twins–drop us a line. Addepto will gladly guide you through possible solutions and applications. We are at your service!
 Wikipedia. Digital twin. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_twin. Accessed Oct 7, 2020.
 I-Scoop. Digital twin technology and simulation: benefits, usage and predictions. URL: https://www.i-scoop.eu/digital-twin-technology-benefits-usage-predictions/. Accessed Oct 7, 2020.
 Chevron. “Digital twins” technology. Nov 8, 2019. URL: https://www.facebook.com/Chevron/photos/a.10150431758480467/10162169206730467/?type=1&theater. Accessed Oct 7, 2020.
 Ge. ‘Digital Twin’ Technology Changed Formula 1 and Online Ads. Planes, Trains and Power Are Next. Oct 04, 2015. URL: https://www.ge.com/news/reports/digital-twin-technology-changed-formula-1-online-ads-planes-trains-power-next. Accessed Oct 7, 2020.
 Patricia Liceras. Singapore experiments with its digital twin to improve city life. May 20, 2019. URL: https://www.smartcitylab.com/blog/digital-transformation/singapore-experiments-with-its-digital-twin-to-improve-city-life/. Accessed Oct 7, 2020.
 SAS. Modern manufacturing’s triple play: Digital twins, analytics and IoT. URL: https://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/articles/big-data/modern-manufacturing-s-triple-play-digital-twins-analytics-iot.html. Accessed Oct 7, 2020.