A digital twin, as we’ve discussed before is a virtual product that is representative of a physical product or process. It is being used to help us to understand and to predict the performance and characteristics and sometimes the breaking points of our physical products. Digital twins are being used by nearly every company in the world to help us to predict and optimize our products or services.
We’ve heard a lot about digital twins but very little about the fact that more than one type actually exists. The applications for a digital twin depend to a large extent on the stage or lifecycle time that it is going to represent.
You can expect to hear about three different kinds of digital twins, but what are they and what do they do for us? Typically you’ll hear of Product, Production and Performance types of digital twins. The integration of these is known as the digital thread. It is called a thread because it weaves together all of the different data from every stage of the production of the product.
Product Digital Twins –according to Siemens.com are used to “virtually validate product performance, while also showing how your products are currently acting in the physical world. This “product digital twin” provides a virtual-physical connection that lets you analyze how a product performs under various conditions and make adjustments in the virtual world to ensure that the next physical product will perform exactly as planned in the field.” It makes no difference how complicated or how uncomplicated the system or materials are, product digital twins will help you to jump that hurdle and make the best decision that you can.
Production Digital Twins—“A production digital twin can help validate how well a manufacturing process will work on the shop floor before anything actually goes into production.” These can be used to create digital twins of every manurfacturing process and every piece of equipment and will predict the best possible maintenance and the best way to prevent production down time. This is one of the ways that digital twins are being used to save time and money.
Performance Digital Twins. Use the data to analyze and to act on problems that may be found. They “captures this data from products and plants in operation and analyzes it to provide actionable insight for informed decision making.”
These digital twins, working on concert can help to create new business opportunities, new insights into products and to improve product and production efficiency to make manufacturing safer, faster and more cost effective.