The Digital Twin is reminiscent of the early days of the personal computer in many ways. Initially, creating a digital twin required excessive computing power and multiple engineers working round the clock to develop digital representations of physical models. And just like the personal computer, technological advancement led to the creation of cloud-based digital twin solutions which made it possible for everyone to explore digital transformation and it is benefits.
Today, the digital twin market is expected to grow exponentially and this growth is being driven by the approximately 20 billion sensors and endpoints around the world. Advancements in IoT and IIoT have also played a role in increasing the adoption rate of digital twin technology which are some of the reasons why digital representations of almost any entity or process can be created today.
The benefits of the digital twin include the ability to make real-time decisions, receive insight from complex processes or systems, and plan better for the future. You can explore how digital twin can help your enterprise or individual pursuits by reading relevant case studies here. Now, to reap these benefits, a digital twin of a chosen process, object, facility, or system must be created which is what this post is all about. Thus, if you have ever wondered what it takes to develop a digital twin then bookmarking this is recommended.
5 Things You Should Know About Creating a Digital Twin
The task of creating a digital twin may sound daunting but like most activities diving in headfirst without overthinking simplifies the process. Once you have the required tools needed to create a digital twin, the supporting technologies such as Simio provides you with prompts and interactive information needed to complete the process. To successfully create a digital twin, here is what you need to know and the resources you need to have:
- Defining the System – The first step to creating a digital twin is defining the system, process or object to be digitized. To do this, an understanding of the entity is required and this can only be achieved through data capture. Thus, data defines the system to be digitized and introduced into the digital space.
The data capture process is generally fluid in nature and depends on the entity or system being considered. For manufacturing facilities, the data that defines a system or process can be gotten from assets within a facility these assets include original equipment, shop floor layouts, workstations, and IoT devices. Data from these assets are captured using smart edge devices, RFIDs, human-machine interfaces and other technologies that drive data collection.
With physical objects such as vehicles, data capture is done through sensors, actuators, controllers, and other smart edge devices within the system. 3D scanners can also be used to extract point clouds when digitizing small to medium-sized objects. The successful capture of the data a system or object produces defines the system and is the first step to creating a digital twin.
- The Identity of Things – One of the benefits of a digital twin is the ability to automate processes and develop simulations that analyze how a system will operate under diverse constraints. This means the system or facility to be digitized must have its own unique identity which ensures its actions are autonomous when it is introduced into a system.
To achieve this, many digital twin platforms make use of decentralized identifiers which verify the digital identity of a self-sovereign object or facility. For example, when developing a digital twin of a facility, the entire system will have its own unique identity and assets within the facility are verified with unique identities to ensure their actions are autonomous when executing simulations within the digital twin environment.
- An Intuitive Digital Twin Interface – Another important element or choice to make when creating a digital twin is selecting a technology or software that can help you achieve your goals. You must be clear about how the technology can help you achieve your goals of a digital twin. Some things you need to consider when choosing a digital twin software or platform include:
- How the software handles the flow of data from the IoT devices or facility and other enterprise systems needed to understand and digitize the chosen process.
- You need to understand how the software recreates physical objects or assets into its digital ecosystem. Some technologies support the use of 3D models and animations when recreating entities while others do not deliver that level of clarity.
- When digitizing complex systems with hundreds of variables that produce large data sets, the computing resources needed to create and manage a digital twin is increased. This makes computing power and resources a key consideration when choosing a digital twin platform or solution. The best options are scalable digital twin technologies that leverage the cloud to deliver its services.
- An intuitive digital twin solution also simplifies the process of creating digital representations of physical assets. The technology should also be able to understand the data produced across the life-cycle of an asset or at least integrate the tools that can manage the identity of assets within the digital twin.
- Another key consideration is the functions you expect the digital twin to perform. If it is to serve as a monitoring tool for facilities or for predictive maintenance, a limited digital twin software can be used while for simulations and scheduling a more advanced technology will be required.
- Start Small with Implementation – When taking on the implementation of digital twin technology, it is recommended you start small. This means monitoring the performance of simple components or a single IoT device within a system and expand with time. This hands-on approach is the best way to understand how the digital twin functions and how it can be used to manage larger systems according to your requirements.
With this knowledge, you can then choose to explore the more sophisticated aspects or functions the digital twin offers such as running complex discrete event simulations and scheduling tasks. A step by step approach to implementing or creating a digital twin provides more learning opportunities than initiating a rip and replace approach when developing one.
- Understand the Security Considerations – According to Gartner, there will be 50 billion connected devices and 215 trillion stable IoT connections in 2020. As stated earlier the increased adoption rate of digital twin technology and the connected systems around the world bring up security challenges. These security considerations also affect the digital twin due to the constant transfer of data from the physical asset or process to the digital twin ecosystems.
When creating a digital twin, a plan must be in place to handle secure communication channels across networks and other vulnerabilities. To effectively do this, an understanding of the different communication protocols used within a system is required. This is why when choosing a digital twin technology, security challenges and how the platform mitigates risk must also be considered.
Creating a Digital Twin with Simio
Simio digital twin technology provides an extensive framework for creating digital twins of physical processes and facilities. The key considerations such as 3D representation, animation, scaling up functions, and simulation can be achieved within Simio’s environment.
If properly created, the digital twin can be used to drive data analytics initiatives, predictive maintenance, design layouts, and simulate diverse working scenarios. Thus, anyone or an enterprise can explore the benefits of the digital twin using Simio to create digital representations of complex systems or simpler ones. You can learn more about using Simio to create digital twin representations by registering for the Simio Fundamentals Course.