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Digital Twin: Definition, Features, Benefits, Future

The concept of digitalization is a crucial concept for every sector, as well as in production and storage. Understanding the present and making accurate predictions can only be possible with digitalization. One of the most important ways for digitalizing factories and warehouses is the digital twin.

Although the concept of the digital twin has been very popular in recent years, it is a concept that has been in our lives for a very long time. In 2002, Dr. Michael Grieves from the University of Michigan applied the digital twin concept to production for the first time and officially announced the digital twin software concept. However, the history of the digital twin goes back much further, to the 1960s. In the 1960s, NASA personnel digitally copied physical versions of spacecraft for study and simulation purposes.

When we look at the definition of digital twin we made later in this article, it would not be wrong to say that NASA personnel created a kind of digital twin. Later in 1991, the idea of ​​digital twin technology was first voiced when David Gelernter published Mirror Worlds. From all this, we understand that what Grieves did in 2002 is the implementation of what has been done since 1960 to production and software. The journey of the digital twin concept, which started with NASA in the 1960s, continued with NASA in 2010, and John Vickers named this concept "Digital Twin" in his 2010 Roadmap Report.

With a 70-year history, IBM has defined the digital twin as a virtual representation of an object or system spanning its lifecycle, updated from real-time data, and using simulation, machine learning, and reasoning to aid decision making.

The Digital Twin Consortium, on the other hand, defined the digital twin as a virtual representation of real-world entities and processes, synchronized at a specified frequency and fidelity. In summary, the digital twin is the real-time connection between the physical asset and the digital representation of the assets.

How does the digital twin work?

You can think of the digital twin as a bridge between the physical and digital worlds.

First, sensors are integrated with the physical element to collect real-time status data, operating conditions, or location. All data tracked by the sensors are sent to a cloud-based system. All data for the item is analyzed in the light of business and other relevant data.

Ultimately, lessons are learned, and opportunities are revealed in the virtual environment that can be applied to the physical world to transform your business.

Types of the digital twin

The type of physical entity forms variants of the digital twin. The biggest difference between these twins is the field of application. Different types of digital twins are likely to coexist within a system or process. Let's examine the types of digital twins to learn about the differences and how they apply.

We can say that there are four basic types of the digital twin. These are part twins, product twins, system twins, and process twins.

Parts twins

They are the smallest components that make up a functional product. Therefore, the most basic unit of the Digital Twin is the fragment twins. At this level, virtual representations of individual parts give us the ability to understand many properties of that part, such as physical, mechanical, electrical properties.

Asset twins

When two or more parts work together, they form the product. Product twins create massive amounts of data that can be processed and then actioned, allowing you to examine the interaction and performance of these parts.

System twins

The next level is system twins. It lets you see how different products come together to form a functional system. System twins provide visibility into product operation and can suggest performance improvements.

Process twins

The final level is process twins. It reveals how systems work together to form an entire manufacturing facility. Are all of these systems synchronized to operate at peak efficiency, or will delays in one system affect the others? As a result, Process twins can help identify all processes that affect overall efficiency and performance.

Benefits of the digital twin

In the light of all that we have said, we can say that the digital twin has five basic features. The digital twin is connectable, programmable, leaves a digital trace, is homogeneous and modular. All these features make the digital twin have many advantages for companies.

With the digital twin, the reliability of production and storage, and the efficiency of companies, increase by foreseeing the whole process and possible errors, with the copy of the system before proceeding to production and storage. Seeing the problems that may arise in the future also enables the improvement and optimization of production processes and warehousing. In addition, since the digital twin also has historical data, it shows the errors that have occurred before and enables the preparation of new, more reliable, and more successful processes

Future of the digital twin

Digital twins are defined as powerful minds that drive innovation and performance. Imagine them as your most talented employees, equipped with the most advanced monitoring, analytics and forecasting capabilities. IDC estimates that companies investing in digital twin technology will see a 30 percent improvement in their critical processes by 2018.

It is said that there will be billions of things represented by digital twins in the next five years. According to Grand View Research, the worldwide digital twin platform market is predicted to reach $86 billion by 2028. The representations of the physical world will lead to new collaboration opportunities between product specialists and data scientists dealing with operational data.

All indications seem to predict that we are on the verge of a digital twin technology explosion. More companies will learn from the digital twin's success stories and will want to use their digital twin to gain a competitive advantage. Today, artificial intelligence and cloud technology provides the unmatched potential for the application of digital twin technology.

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