We hear a lot about AI these days. Depending on whom you ask, AI is either going to save us all or usher in the end times. When it comes to digital twins, however, AI is fueling an incredible revolution in a number of industries, enabling heretofore impossible connectivity between the real world and the virtual one.
Digital twins as a software construct are not new. They have been around for a little over two decades, but today’s digital twins can employ AI and machine learning, setting them apart from earlier virtual modeling capabilities. They are complex virtual representations built from multiple data sources such as processes, people, devices, and mechanical systems. Digital twins represent not just one process but an entire organization.
Digital twins integrate real time info and accumulated historical data to become smarter as time passes. Dynamic and complex, they are capable of such functions as:
- Analyzing workflow
- Optimizing performance
- Monitoring processes
- Predicting equipment failure
- Facilitating testing of products and processes still in the concept phase
- Reducing energy use
- Maintaining a comfortable work environment
- Keeping maintenance costs down
Digital Twins Are Revolutionizing Industries
Where early digital twins were used largely by manufacturing and construction industries, more and more companies are recognizing their potential.
- Today, manufacturers use digital twins to test feasibility, predict maintenance, help design, test, and fine-tune products and processes, and improve efficiency on production lines. Digital twins allow companies to audition improvements virtually to determine their impact.
- The automotive industry R & D teams are leaning into digital twins to streamline the innovation process. Long before a physical prototype is built and taken out for a spin on the test track, digital twins allow the auto industry to road test while still in the concept stage.
- Supply chains use digital twins at every link–mapping routes, improving warehouse efficiency, and monitoring and optimizing the performance of robotics and automated systems.
- Transportation industries build digital twins of roads, bridges, rail yards, and airports. They help analyze the effects of weather and pinpoint root causes of such things as systems malfunctions and traffic congestion. Airplane manufactures create digital twins of powerful jet engines to test how they will behave under extreme conditions.
- Retailers use digital twins to analyze market data, improve supply lines, help design spaces, and enhance the shopping experience for customers. At the same time, they allow retailers to respond to demographics, store traffic patterns, and buying habits.
- Hospitals employ digital twins to design innovative equipment, optimize operational procedures, plan building layout to be more efficient and to minimize distances patients must be transported when mere minutes count.
- Physicians and medical researchers can see amazing uses for digital twins on the horizon. Already digital twins have been built of human hearts. There’s a current project underway to create a digital twin of the human immune system in order to be better prepared for future global health crises. Working with a virtual model will allow researchers to test treatments quicker and cheaper. We’re a long way from having our own personal digital twins, but they’re likely to be an eventual (virtual) reality.
In the building industry, digital twins now play a role in the entire lifecycle of a space. From architectural design to the planning phase and throughout construction, digital twins facilitate the transformation from idea to solid reality.
Once a building is up and its mechanical systems in place and operational, embedded sensors and I of T devices continuously feed real time data to the digital twin. Temperature, humidity, occupancy, energy consumption, and equipment performance data are integrated and processed, giving a real time view of the building’s status.
All of this data accumulating over time increases the virtual model’s IQ, allowing it to be an even useful tool for analysis and optimization as Ai algorithms and machine learning are applied to the data.
Digital Twins Have Become the Virtual Mind of the Operation for Many Industries
Before a physical asset becomes a reality, a digital twin facilitates testing, troubleshooting, and tweaking. Throughout the asset’s life, the digital twin allows for remote monitoring and control of processes. DIgital twins allow you to see problems virtually before they become unnecessarily costly realities. They drive smarter decision making.
How could a digital twin help you realize the full potential of your project? Talk to the experts at Darling Geomatics to discover the possibilities.
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