Adding digital twins to your IoT strategy
What in the world is a digital twin and why do you need one?
As a concept, the digital twin phenomenon is simpler than it sounds – in its most basic form, a twin is a digital copy of an existing physical object. What kind of an object, you may ask? Any type of object, really, but this tech is mostly slated to benefit industry and public infrastructure at this time. When it comes to sophisticated machinery, having a virtual representation of the real thing brings forth several advantages, not limited to improved maintenance and prolonged asset lifespan, lower opex and capex, optimized performance and more accurate resource consumption forecasting. Digital twins can be beneficial in the management of complex factory environments, cities, neighborhoods, and buildings as well.
It must be said that digital twins are not an alternative to simpler problems that can be solved with less sophisticated IoT systems. Scenarios when business objectives can be met by implementing a network of sensors capable of supplying simple metrics sufficient for decision-making, are among those.
Improve your asset management with the help of a digital twin
Having a digital twin at your disposal means that you don’t need an entire team for physically monitoring the health, performance, or consumption of your most valuable capital investments. When it comes to complex infrastructure systems, large fleets of industrial manufacturing equipment (e.g. robots, production lines, and others), or transportation vehicles, conducting maintenance checks can quickly turn into a time- and resource-consuming process that needs constant oversight. Being able to remotely manage these assets from the cloud via their digital twins, can mean the difference between management and mismanagement. In more tangible terms, having digital copies of physical objects has the potential to reduce operating and maintenance costs, extend asset life and streamline asset amortization.
Incorporating twins into your IoT strategy
In addition to proving largely valuable to large public or private organizations, digital twins also have vast applications to virtually any place, object, environment, or even person. To be successful, the integration of digital twins into a business needs to be planned and executed as part of the greater IoT strategy. Still, the business case for introducing twins must be considered independently, along with clear objectives, goals, KPIs and a practical path to implementation. Once the decision has been made and the digital replica has been built, CIOs and CTOs can reap the benefits of centralized asset and system oversight, anywhere and anytime. This will eventually result in reduced overhead and enhanced operational efficiency.
Digital twins outlook
Although there is much hype around digital twins at present, commercial adoption is still low and there are considerable risks associated with rollout. These include the actual implementation process and its cost, the resulting increased complexity, and finally – privacy and security vulnerabilities. When implemented correctly, digital twins can add value to decision-making by adding an extra layer of awareness and generating more adequate and timely responses to ever-changing environments. Although the benefits of twin adoption can make it a clear-cut case, the implications of hosting fully virtual models of valuable assets and data on the cloud need to be considered and carefully addressed.
Steps to integrating digital twins
Chief Technology Officers looking for greater transparency into the state of physical objects and systems would be well positioned to investigate the incorporation of digital twins into their IT and IoT strategies. Although not the ultimate beneficiaries, it is IT teams who need to pioneer the tech, manage the ideation and implementation on organizational level. Having timely and accurate information about the state of physical assets means being able to closely predict, plan and time services and expenses related to their operations, maintenance and retirement – an added benefit that financial controllers and C-level execs are sure to appreciate.
Digital twins have disruptive potential that we are yet to fully understand and take advantage of. They provide opportunities to create entirely new models based on 360-degree system consumption, performance and maintenance data.
Let us know if you plan to introduce digital twins to your IoT strategy @Verhaert Digital.
Copywriter Ina Danova