What is digital twin technology?

One of the keys to business success is having the ability to predict the impact of eventual changes on a product or service. Basically, what the digital twin allows is a concept of great importance to both private and public organizations.

With digital twins, companies can improve the performance of certain products, services or strategies by predicting results with up-to-date and accurate data.

Digital twins: mirror of the physical world

Specifically, digital twins are virtual representations that reflect the behavior of a physical product or service.

Usually this model is fed by data provided by IoT sensors attached to physical objects, with information feeding the virtual model created to replicate and simulate their behavior. All with the aim of improving its performance and predicting the impact of possible changes.

The resulting information is processed through technologies such as machine learning to simulate the behavior of an object when integrating new functions or making changes to its design, identifying possible virtues and flaws to make necessary adjustments before they are actually implemented.

Digital twins are used in different fields considering the possibilities they offer:

  • For example, in the healthcare industry today they allow professionals to design a virtual representation of a particular patient or organ to study the effects of certain procedures.
  • They also set the standards in the automotive industry and, like Ford, are very helpful in the design and construction of various models.

Given its impact on production chains, the digital twin market is projected to reach US$35.8 billion according to Deloitte, delivering a CAGR of 38% between 2019 and 2025.

Key features of digital twins

To better understand how digital twins work, let’s review some of their key features:

  • The more information is collected about the product, service or process (life cycle, design features, operational details, etc.) under consideration, the more reliable the simulation model will be able to provide predictions. All thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
  • It has a predictive nature, which is ideal for predicting errors and thus making relevant corrections so that they do not actually occur.
  • His work includes the use of different technologies to analyze and simulate the behavior of objects, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and machine learning.

It is important to clarify that the digital twin is not the same thing as a simulation program: the latter specifically examines items, while the digital twin works on a larger scale, such as logistics chains or industrial processes, thanks to the fact that it produces.

The advantages of using a digital twin

Among the main benefits that can be derived from the use of digital twins, it is worth highlighting the following:

  • Higher performance. Virtual monitoring and simulation of a process or system allows decisions to be made and actions to be taken, which means greater efficiency and performance improvements.
  • Great R&D opportunity. The use of digital twins facilitates more effective product and process design due to big data collection and processing through technologies such as cloud computing, IoT, Big Data and AI.
  • Predict possible failures. The predictive capacity of digital twins allows for real-world risk reduction.
  • Better processing of products and materials. With these virtual representations, it is possible to optimize and extend the life cycle of items, and even identify items that can be reused and improve recycling actions.

Main industries using digital twins

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2025, investment in digital twins is expected to increase in the following areas:

  • Manufacturing: $6.7 billion.
  • Automotive: $5.1 billion.
  • Aviation: $5.1 billion.
  • Energy and services: $3.8 billion.
  • Health: $3.8 billion.
  • Logistics and retail trade: $2.3 billion.

The future of digital twins

The possibilities offered by digital twins are as broad as the needs of organizations and will increase as technology evolves, especially in terms of connectivity and artificial intelligence.

The Hexa-X project is a clear example of the above, of which large companies in the communications sector such as telefónica and renowned European research centers are part of.

This initiative aims to provide a vision of the 6G systems of the future by connecting the physical world with the virtual world, which, among other things, is expected to digitally replicate entire cities to study their behavior.

Currently, digital twins play a strategic role in organizational processes by allowing them to simulate and predict products, services or physical processes, and are of great value in supporting decision-making regarding world-changing innovations.