The term "digital twin" has gained significant attention among manufacturers and industrial companies in recent years, but its meaning can vary.
Organisations from Ford to Airbus have adopted digital twins to strengthen their operations and business value for customers. Michael Grieves of the Digital Twin Institute and NASA's John Vickers are credited with popularising the core ideas and coining the term "digital twin" in 2010. This technology encompasses more than just virtual models and has become feasible due to advancements in computing, modelling techniques, and IoT connectivity since 2020.
How Digital Twins are making manufacturing smarter
Digital twins are used in smart manufacturing to provide real-time monitoring, optimisation, and simulation of manufacturing processes, for example:
Digital twins create virtual representations of manufacturing equipment and processes, allowing real-time monitoring of their performance, which can help to identify any problems.
The same method allows manufacturers to predict maintenance needs and prevent unplanned downtime.
Supply Chain optimisation
What kind of manufacturer, in 2023, would not want to utilise all supply chain visibility gear available?
Digital twins can be applied across a manufacturer’s whole supply chain, to track products and materials. This offers better coordination and improved logistics.
Digital twins in the Metaverse
The metaverse, a virtual collective space where individuals can interact with each other and digital objects in a shared virtual reality environment (for example, through the use of AR technology).
The metaverse is a place for virtual interaction, while a digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical thing. They both involve virtual representations, but serve different purposes - usually.
Digital twins can play a role in the metaverse by providing virtual representations of physical objects or systems within the virtual environment:
Virtual product representation
Digital twins can serve as virtual replicas of physical products, allowing users in the metaverse to explore and interact with them in a realistic manner, which enables customisation.
Digital twins within the metaverse can be used for training purposes. In industries like manufacturing or aviation, users can engage with digital twins to practise maintenance procedures and emergency response protocols.
Digital twins integrated into the metaverse can offer real-time data on the performance of physical objects, which can be used for making informed decisions within the virtual environment.