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article imageDigital twins technology is changing business process

By Tim Sandle     Jul 16, 2019 in Business
Digital twins technology presents companies with a significant opportunity to improve products and processes by testing out virtual simulations. We look at three diverse applications of this technology, outlining the advantages to businesses.
Acting as a virtual replica of the physical environment, a digital twin can be used in advanced ways to truly automate, optimize and connect systems, and the adoption of digital twins technology is set to become big. Digital twins can be applied to design and to assist with operations, such as providing real-time data about the condition of a process or an item of equipment; or extending to an entire system, building or town.
As an example, two thirds of organizations implementing Internet of Things projects are using or planning to use digital twin technology within a year. This is based on recent Gartner survey. Benoit Lheureux, research VP at Gartner states: "Manufacturers of IoT-connected products are the most progressive, as the opportunity to differentiate their product and establish new service and revenue streams is a clear business driver."
To showcase how digital twins technology can help to drive improvements in any business sector, we look at three examples.
Utilities
As an example of a utility provider adopting digital twin technology, Northumbrian Water, based on the U.K., is teaming up with Newcastle University to see how the technology can assist improving its services. This includes looking at ways by which a virtual model of the real world can help the company to understand if certain homes and businesses are in danger of being flooded, or from environments being pollute. The objective is to prioritise the appropriate response actions in potentially affected areas.
Expanding on this, information services director Nigel Watson tells the website Waste Water Treatment: "We think simulation is the real game-changer – the pace at which you're able to run hypotheses with cloud computing. You can point a huge amount of computer power at a problem in a split-second of time."
Smart buildings
Digital twins hold the potential to propel innovations with real estate and smart buildings. The technology enables designers to bring together previously unconnected systems. This includes connecting the security features of a building to the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system, in order to ensure that building temperature and humidity is not prone to being hacked. Digital twin technology enables density modeling and it provides opportunity to pinpoint any failure-prone components and for engineers to run suitability for testing. With buildings this includes optimizing electrical performance and, for smart building where connectivity is key, minimizing signal integrity problems.
Digital twins can also be used to gain alternative insights into design, to optimize workflows, and monitor processes remotely. Once constructed, the technology can also provide building occupants with greater control over their own workspaces and environmental conditions. Consultants ThoughtWire have calculated that digital twins can lower operating costs in some buildings by up to 88 cents per square foot per year.
Automotive
The company Challenge Advisory have worked with major car manufacturers using their propriety Digital Twin Genie. In one example, the digital twins software was directly built into the machinery responsible for manufacturing car parts and internal sensors were added into the engine of the cars in order to track “customer to product” interactions. Applying digital twins t car manufacturing enables to application of physics-based ‘mathematical’ models that can predict the behavior of a part in service for a given set of environmental conditions and operational parameters.
An analysis of the data enable the car manufacturer to reduce the time to produce a car model and to drive efficiency savings in relation to fuel consumption, daily mileage, and engine performance monitoring.
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