A buzzword for some, a breakthrough innovation for others, no one is indifferent about digital twins. Long confined to the playing field of industrial and technological multinationals, digital twins are becoming increasingly important as their potential is being explored. But, what are digital twins?
A digital twin is the virtual representation of a real object. It’s a simple concept, but it has thousands of promising applications for B2B and B2C companies, such as predictive maintenance, optimizing productivity, planning maintenance operations, improving equipment products – and more. We’ll explain everything.
Digital twins: understanding by example
The best way to introduce this new concept is to use a specific example. Imagine a road transport company. The company’s trucks have to be in motion as much as possible to make money. So, a truck that’s standing still is a loss of revenue. Whenever a truck is inspected without knowing if an inspection is necessary, it’s also a waste of time. Such as checking tire pressure on a regular basis. It occupies an employee’s time, it stops the truck, and nobody knows if it’s really necessary.
On the other hand, not intervening in time to repair a worn-out mechanical part that’s in danger of breaking is a real risk. By placing a series of sensors on the truck, we can create a virtual version of the truck, its twin – a so-called digital twin. These sensors can measure fuel and oil consumption, tire pressure, engine wear, exhaust emissions, etc. in real time.
The truck’s digital twin makes it possible to measure exactly how and when to intervene on the real version of the truck. By combining available data with new technological processes, you create greater potential for predictive maintenance and vehicle optimization. Digital twins bring big data into any object, process or concept. You can recreate a digital version of an industrial machine, an airplane seat, a road and even a city that, once equipped with sensors, can be controlled in a very precise way (road traffic, electricity consumption, waste water management, public transport, etc.).
New B2B and B2C markets are constantly opening up.
Get ready for the advent of the Internet of Things by becoming interested in digital twins. It will be a time when everything is connected, with information that can be aggregated, measured, segmented and shared to promote decision making based on indicators, algorithms and customized scoring. By 2020, more than 20 billion connected sensors are expected to be in operation, which means that there will be several billion digital twins.
The connected appliances in our homes are an example of this. Your refrigerator will be able to do the shopping for you, according to what’s left in the refrigerator. If it’s connected to your daily agenda, it might even anticipate your needs by ordering the drinks for this evening that you forgot. And if it detects a problem, such as an improperly closed door that’s causing a dangerous rise in temperature for your sushi, it will send you an alert on your phone.
In companies, a computer’s digital twin will be able to provide valuable information to your IT department for measuring component use, power and wear, and for adapting equipment to the real needs of the user, thus optimizing costs. A web designer does not have the same needs as a project manager or a receptionist, for example.
The information will continue to be more accurate and customizable at a level of granularity never seen before. So, after that, would you still see the need to do an annual inspection of your car if sensors could keep you informed about the status of its digital twin from your smartphone?
Digital twins, virtual reality and augmented reality – the winning trio
The virtualization of objects is a profound change that will revolutionize our personal and professional habits. And associating them with virtual and augmented realities opens up a new world of possibilities. Virtual reality allows the data from a connected object’s sensors to be displayed on the object’s digital twin. Is there a problem with a machine in a factory? Rather than spending hours taking everything apart to find out where the problem is, the information is clearly indicated and this saves time and money.
Virtual reality opens up a new world where virtual objects can be used to interact with real objects. It’s the concept of connected medicine, where surgeons operate on a patient remotely with the help of robots. In the future, a technician will be able to repair or control any machine in the world by using its digital double.
Captivating, awe-inspiring, surprising… there are often many different reactions when digital twins are mentioned. A silent revolution which is still largely unknown the general public, but which is slowly growing. Data management is always at the heart of digital twin management. A strategic mastery that will allow certain industries and certain companies to take the lead over others. If you think you’re in control of your processes and your data, that’s a good sign. If not, the first thing to do is to get your data in order.
You probably won’t be launching digital twins tomorrow morning, but at least your next marketing campaigns will be more effective.
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