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Digital Twins and IoT are two of the most transformative technologies of our time. Their combination leads to a powerful new model of connected business and services, enabling measurable, intelligent, and collaborative operations.

From monitoring and managing infrastructure to optimizing manufacturing to even improving supply chains, the two technologies can help create innovative and efficient systems.

Along those lines, this article explores the nitty-gritty of both Digital Twin and IoT and lends a comprehensive perspective on the viability of their combination.

What Is a Digital Twin?

A digital twin refers to the digital representation of a physical object or system. It is updated in real-time and uses simulation, machine learning, and reasoning to ease decision-making. In simple words, it is designed to reflect a physical object digitally.

This virtual model can help create simulations, study product performance, and suggest improvements that can be applied to the original physical object.

No doubt then that the digital twin market is expected to grow from $6.9 billion in 2022 to $73.5 billion by 2027. Integrating this technology with IoT, AI, and cloud computing is expected to boost the market growth.

How Does a Digital Twin Work?

The process of creating a digital twin involves collecting data using sensors and field devices that are fitted onto physical objects. The collected physical and operational data works to build a virtual model of the object.

Once the engineers have built the digital twin, they research the underlying physical system being mimicked. The twin receives inputs from sensors, which offers insights into the performance and potential problems of the physical product.

The twin also acts as a prototype based on which a physical product can be designed. This means a digital twin can be a prototype in itself before the physical version of the product is built. In essence, the twin offers feedback as the product is refined.

Digital Twin Use Cases

With increasing popularity, many industries are using digital twins to help in maintenance operations. For instance, aircraft engines, trains, turbines, and offshore oil platforms can be designed and tested digitally before being manufactured physically. To that end, a digital twin is being used in the following industries:

  • Automotive:Since cars are already fitted with telemetry sensors, using this technology helps with designing, testing, and validating complex and critical components.
  • Healthcare: The healthcareindustry engages digital twins for profiling patients. Many have built band-aid-sized sensors that send health-related information back to a monitor and predict a patient’s well-being.
  • Manufacturing: The applicability of digital twins in the manufacturing sector is beyond immense since almost every process, like designing and testing across different manufacturing stages, can be simulated.

What Is IoT?

Gartner defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as “the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”

As it stands, around 13 billion connected IoT devices exist today. And Statista expects this number to grow to 29 billion by 2030. Owing to these, digital systems can record, monitor, and adjust all the interactions between connected things.

IoT Use Cases

Here are some of the popular applications of IoT:

  • Increasing manufacturing efficiency through machine monitoring and product-quality monitoring
  • Increasing safety and security of transportation systems through vehicle-to-vehicle communication
  • Creating smart infrastructure for cities like smart parking garages, smart traffic lights, and street lights
  • Endowing residences with remote control – like adjusting the temperature of ACs, controlling water heaters, and regulating lighting

Various industries like manufacturing, automotive, transportation, logistics, retail, healthcare, and more use IoT to make work processes easy.

Digital Twin & IoT

A host of data-producing IoT devices work to amass a lot of information on the physical objects that are being monitored. When implementing a digital twin in the IoT landscape, this process is streamlined to a great extent. That’s because the digital twin becomes the destination for data coming from the IoT network. Now, this opens avenues for analyzing and using the data more efficiently.

Here, it’s worth noting that a digital twin becomes a data repository – more so a single source of truth for the whole network. It becomes the go-to source of real-time data that can be used for simulation and decision-making to help improve production. Here’s how the benefits are realized:

Visibility Into the Full Product Lifecycle

Of course, the prime benefit of combining digital twins and IoT is the improved visibility into the full product lifecycle. The data-producing sensors monitor and record different aspects of a product’s performance. And with data being readily accessible via the digital twin, the business is empowered to perform continuous monitoring of equipment and infrastructure.

Besides, implementing digital twins makes change management in manufacturing and service processes easier with lower rework time.

Profound Operational Intelligence

IoT unlocks all the unknown insights and threads them with a real-time and historical system of records. Consider this; with the help of a process lens, IoT helps drive manufacturing KPIs. For example, it becomes relatively straightforward to improve the uptime of a single asset on a factory floor with the help of IoT-driven insights that can improve the results.

At the same time, a twin of a production line can reduce the difficulties through enhanced operational visibility. This nurtures a better understanding of the production processes that’s vital for continuous improvement.

The Bottom Line

With the increasing popularity of IoT and increasing sophistication of the business landscape, many industries have started implementing digital twins. As seen above, IoT and digital twins form the backbones of workplace management systems that enhance the operations.

Without digital twins, IoT will involve complex networking between points of data origin and data use. Just like a workplace brings the entire company together, a digital twin centralizes the data of the connected devices for real-time analytics and process/product improvement.

Nitin Tappe

After successful stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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