Covering Disruptive Technology Powering Business in The Digital Age

Digital Twin: The Digital Blueprint for Everything
March 1, 2023 News


Written by: Khairul Haqeem, Journalist, AOPG.

Technology like the Digital Twin is changing the way we design, build, and run complex systems. Simply put, a Digital Twin is a computer-generated replica of a real-world system or product linked to its physical analogue to monitor the latter’s state of wellness and function in real-time.

Nevertheless, it is important to understand the significance of a Digital Twin. Why? Because it has the potential to revolutionise numerous sectors, from manufacturing to healthcare, by helping businesses maximise efficiency, cut costs, and stimulate results. Engineers, operators, and analysts can learn more about a physical asset’s behaviour in various scenarios and spot areas for improvement by creating a digital replica of the asset.

We will investigate the nature of Digital Twin technology, before going on to look at its practical applications across a range of industries. We will go over how Digital Twins are used to enhance productivity, decrease downtime, and increase security, and we’ll also look at the benefits and drawbacks of this innovative technology. With any luck, by the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of Digital Twin technology and how it’s altering the way we construct and run sophisticated systems.

Seeing Double: The Rise of Digital Twin Technology

There is no longer any need to double-check the advent of Digital Twin technology. It’s a genuine technological advancement that’s seen widespread use in several fields at the present time. Let’s take a deeper dive into the ways in which Digital Twins are being utilised to enhance processes and address issues.

Digital Twins are being utilised to improve industrial processes and cut down on downtime. For instance, Siemens, a major manufacturer in Germany, is employing Digital Twins to replicate every step of the manufacturing process, from product design to machinery operation. The use of Digital Twins allows for the early detection of problems and the subsequent implementation of fixes, resulting in enhanced production efficiencies and improved final goods.

Digital Twins are being employed in healthcare to better the experience of patients and decrease costs. For example, researchers at the University of California San Francisco have built a Digital Twin of the human heart that lets doctors model and test potential therapies for cardiac illness. By employing Digital Twins, clinicians may improve treatment programmes and eliminate the need for intrusive procedures.

Digital Twins are being utilised to enhance building design and cut down on waste in the construction sector. For example, the construction company Skanska is utilising Digital Twins to replicate the construction process of a project, allowing them to spot possible concerns and make improvements before construction begins. They may improve the building’s layout, cut down on unnecessary materials, and save costs with the use of Digital Twins.

Digital Twins are being employed to improve electricity production and delivery. For example, General Electric is utilising Digital Twins to construct a virtual duplicate of a power plant, which allows operators to monitor the unit’s performance in real-time and identify possible faults before they arise. They can improve the plant’s efficiency and cut downtime by deploying Digital Twins.

These are just a few instances of how Digital Twin technology is being utilised to enhance operations and address issues in numerous sectors. Developing a Digital Twin of a tangible asset allows businesses to study its performance in various contexts and spot areas for enhancement. There is much promise in this technology, and as it becomes more widespread, new and interesting uses for the concept of the “Digital Twin” will emerge.

In Line With the Circular Economy Mantra

Today, electrical equipment manufacturers, contractors, and end-users in the region should take their carbon footprints more seriously than ever. However, many are still unsure of where to begin.

Stronger decarbonisation efforts can only be successful by adopting a circular economy approach that focuses on the entire lifecycle of medium-voltage and low-voltage equipment. The circular economy concentrates on reducing products’, services’, and systems’ environmental impact. It focuses on extending equipment’s useful life, reducing emissions and energy recovery, and promoting circular flows of materials.

Therefore, Edwin Kong, Head of Power Systems Sales, Malaysia & Brunei, Schneider Electric, believes that Digital Twins are a good example of how technology enables environmentally conscious design. “The technology provides a digital representation of a physical device or system in their circular environments. The Digital Twin model has an important role to play in equipment and systems’ decarbonisation and that’s because giving data value at all steps of the product life (and project) enhances service life efficiency”, he said, adding that Digital Twins also provide a risk-free way to analyse, test, and experiment with different design scenarios, processes, equipment, and operations before making any changes to the physical asset’s design.

Kong gave the example of an electrical system Digital Twin that is able to analyse the process impact and propose the most adapted architecture. And, if relevant, the electrical system Digital Twin can also propose an optimised power generation combination. For instance, it may identify how to maximise decarbonisation by minimising energy use.

In short, Digital Twin technology offers several benefits for the environment. It can help reduce carbon footprint, improve resource efficiency, enable sustainable design, and even predict and prevent environmental disasters. By simulating and modelling different scenarios, Digital Twins can help organisations make more informed decisions that lead to a more sustainable future. Ultimately, the use of Digital Twins can help reduce the impact of human activities on the environment and contribute to a healthier planet for future generations.

Double Trouble: Challenges and Limitations of Digital Twin Technology

It all definitely sounds great but before jumping on the Digital Twin bandwagon, businesses should weigh the benefits against the risks. Here, we’ll look at the limitations of Digital Twin technology so that readers can decide for themselves if it’s the best option for their situation.

Digital Twin technology may have strong beneficial points but there are still drawbacks to think about. The lack of timely and reliable information for instance is a major obstacle. A Digital Twin can only function well if it has access to reliable information (which is always dependent on a seamless stream of internet connectivity) about the actual thing it is modelling. This is not always easy to do, especially in industries with a wide variety of established practices and procedures such as the healthcare industry.

Again, Digital Twin technology is not cheap. The process of making a digital representation of a physical item can be time-consuming and resource intensive. Digital Twins may be expensive to create, and it can be even more expensive to keep them up to date, what with all the data that has to be managed and analysed as things change.

The final hurdle is figuring out how to work Digital Twins into pre-existing infrastructure and procedures. Given the need for communication and collaboration across many groups and entities, this may be a time-consuming and difficult procedure. Some workers may also be reluctant to embrace the new ways of doing things that the new technology enables.

While Digital Twin technology has numerous potential advantages, businesses should think about its possible drawbacks before using it.

Double or Nothing: The Future of Digital Twin Technology

Digital Twin technology has been creating an impact in the real world and driving positive business outcomes. As the IoTs, 5G connectivity, AI and quantum computing continue to reach new heights, this technology will continue to evolve and transform the way we design, build, and operate complex systems. The concept of Digital Twin technology bridges the physical and digital worlds to form a cyber-physical system. The capabilities of Digital Twins offer visibility and accessibility for personnel at all levels in an organisation, from operators to managers and executives.

We reached out to various experts in the IT industry to get their take on how Digital Twins can benefit organisations now and in the future:

As Joseph Yang, Managing Director of HPE Singapore points out, Digital Twins can be applied in a wide range of scenarios, from product design and prototyping to process optimisation and predictive maintenance. In product design, engineers can use Digital Twins to model virtual prototypes before building the physical ones, which can help save time and money during the design phase. Digital Twins can also be used to simulate full system integration, troubleshoot and diagnose issues, and identify process bottlenecks.

Kun Huang, General Manager of Malaysia, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, believes that large-scale urban Digital Twins are one of the leading technology trends that could shape many industries in the years ahead. By building virtual high-precision road networks, water networks, and vehicles, for example, Digital Twins can help improve traffic management and disaster prevention and control. Digital Twins can also be a carrier of diversified business to support business innovation, and as we migrate the technology to a cloud-native environment, we can build a more powerful simulation platform.

As Ee Huei Sin, Senior Vice President of Keysight Technologies, notes, we can expect to see real-world use-cases of Digital Twins emerging in various sectors, from healthcare to manufacturing to retail. By modelling planned changes, we can gain insights into how decisions can affect sustainability and adjust the entire ecosystem accordingly. In this way, Digital Twin technology can play a critical role in driving positive business outcomes and transforming the way we design, build, and operate complex systems.

According to Andy Ng, Vice President, Managing Director for Asia South and Pacific Region at Veritas Technologies LLC, Digital Twins and synthetic data could complement each other and help support real-world applications more efficiently. One of the main use-cases for Digital Twins is smart forecasting to simulate failures at scale. By using Digital Twins and synthetic data to predict failures ahead of time, organisations can better plan their infrastructure needs and provide information on the reliability of their estate. For example, Veritas has been combining synthetic data and Digital Twins to help its overall AI models to interpret factors that affect system performance and data reliability by detecting anomalies in both the appliances as well as in data. This combination helps ensure system uptime and identify changes to data and parameters that could indicate malware or ransomware intrusion.

Virtual Mirrors: Reflections

These virtual models have become an integral part of current technology due to the rise of machine-learning and other variables like big data. In a nutshell, developing one can aid in the improvement of critical technological trends, forestall expensive malfunctions in physical items, and put cutting-edge analytical, monitoring, and predictive skills to the test in the evaluation of processes and services.

No longer a technology ahead of its time, the time is high to reap the full potential of the Digital Twin technology. With the emergence of web3 and virtual reality, from the simplest simulation to the gargantuan complexity to unravelling the secrets of our cosmos are no longer a page on the book.