The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 and 4IR are terms that are becoming commonplace in manufacturing. Now that these terms are accepted, a new wave of technical turns of phrase have been born.
Chief among these is the concept of a digital twin; a technical tool that has the potential to change the way manufacturers approach their whole production process.
A digital twin is a computerised version of a physical asset. Data from sensors in the real world can be inputted into the twin to create simulations of thousands of outcomes. This technology can empower a manufacturer to run simulations of products to help understand product usage, reliability, and efficiency.
There a dozens of ways that digital twin can go on to change the face of manufacturing. 3D modelling is an area that has been massively boosted by the advent of digital twin, with simulation in different environments allowing a more complete and tested product to be produced.
Diagnostics, monitoring and prognostics can all benefit as well. Digitally reproducing a product and the stresses that it encounters means that upkeep of that product becomes much simpler. Repairs can become predictive instead of reactive and this means potentially fewer costs and less downtime due to maintenance.
Digital twin technology can help manufacturers improve the customer experience as it allows them better insight into customer needs so that they can develop enhancements to existing products, operations, and services, and can even help identify new business opportunities.