Our world is an increasingly digital one, as computers take the place of human workers and analog controls. For the most part, this is a good thing; digital controls are more precise than older mechanical methods, and it’s always better to risk a device than a human in a hazardous industrial environment. 

However, visualizing and controlling this melding of digital and physical assets requires new methods and tools. Across multiple sectors, businesses increasingly turn to digital twins to control and coordinate their operations. 

What Are Digital Twins?

At its most basic, a digital twin is the virtual counterpart of a real-world object. A digital twin consists of three components:

  • A physical entity or system the twin is replicating.
  • A digital representation of the entity, such as a virtual replica created using data, 3D modeling techniques, and software algorithms. 
  • Data connections such as sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that seamlessly update the digital twin with the physical object’s information.

Technologies That Intersect With Digital Twins

Digital twin networks benefit massively from two other new technologies: Internet of Things and generative AI. 

  • Internet of Things: As previously mentioned, the Internet of Things is a major enabler for digital twins. By enabling devices to communicate with each other over high-bandwidth telecommunications, information can be quickly and easily shared. This provides real-time updates for every network component and its digital twin as well.
  • Generative AI: Machine learning algorithms can be trained on the information from digital twins to process the enormous amounts of sensor data that they generate and discern patterns. These patterns can then help develop maintenance schedules, monitor emission output, and optimize a company’s processes. 

Benefits of Digital Twins

The insights that digital twins provide can significantly improve the performance of almost any industrial operation.

  • Real-Time Insights: By receiving updates in real-time from their equipment, operators can react more quickly to changing circumstances, such as mechanical breakdowns or emergency stops. It also allows them to identify precisely what has broken down or stopped. E.ON, a European electric utilities company, uses digital twins in this role to monitor and control its 110kv power transformers. 
  • Predictive Capabilities: Businesses can take the data from digital twins and run it through predictive algorithms to see how their operations would perform under certain conditions. For example, factories can use it to simulate performance at different assembly line speeds, identifying potential breakdowns and inefficiencies in the process. 
  • Remote Monitoring: Because digital twins exist as computer software on a network, they can be accessed and controlled remotely. This reduces the need for on-site workers, which can be extremely valuable in hazardous conditions. 

Digital Twin Applications

Digital twins are extremely useful for any business or enterprise that has to monitor multiple components or aspects of its operations. For example, digital twin systems are used in manufacturing to monitor equipment and machines across the entire factory; rather than have employees monitor each machine individually, a single worker with an industrial computer can watch over the whole assembly line. 

Outside of the factory, transportation and logistics can also greatly benefit from the greater visibility digital twins offer. Italy’s Ferrovie Dello Stato, the state-owned railway network, uses digital twin technology to replicate its rail infrastructure, including more than 10,000 miles of track. The twin replicates stations, tunnels, bridges, signals, and more via cameras, GPS receivers, and predictive algorithms to create a 3D interactive replica.  

This twin provides information that benefits railway managers in the main control centers and remote staff in charge of repairs. Managers have greater oversight of their system, which helps coordinate railway operations and find alternatives if part of the line breaks down. Workers in the field equipped with industrial-grade tablets can use them to have a full 3D view of their work environment, which helps them identify exactly what has gone wrong and how to fix it. 

Closing Thoughts

Implementing digital twins can massively improve a company’s day-to-day operations by giving them greater insight into and control over their equipment. They can also help long-term planning by giving companies a better idea of how their tools and processes will perform under different conditions. 

If you’re looking for industrial-grade computers and tablets that can enable digital twin technology, contact the team at Cybernet Manufacturing. Our devices are tested and ready for a wide range of operating conditions, from withstanding harsh vibrations to handling dust and water exposure. With capable Intel processors and multiple connection options, they’re the perfect solution for enabling digital twin networks. 

Join the conversation and connect with us on this and other relevant topics – Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok