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Top Use Cases of Digital Twins

Jun 4, 2024

Callum Moates

Digital twins are highly detailed virtual replicas of physical entities, processes, or systems. These digital counterparts are used for simulation, analysis, and optimization, providing a dynamic and real-time representation of their physical counterparts. By mirroring real-world objects, digital twins enable enhanced monitoring, predictive maintenance, and informed decision-making, driving efficiency and innovation across various sectors.

The concept of Digital twins originated from NASA in the 1960s. NASA engineers developed the idea to model the events that led to Apollo 13's oxygen tank explosion. The idea was to prevent such a disaster from reoccurring by learning what went wrong. Since then, the technology has proven beneficial for organizations across industries. This blog spotlights digital twins' top use cases and applications in manufacturing, smart cities, energy, retail, and aerospace.

Manufacturing

Predictive Maintenance

Digital twins can create real-time virtual replicas of a manufacturing plant or physical equipment to identify maintenance requirements. These digital models continuously collect and analyze data from embedded sensors, identifying patterns and anomalies that indicate potential failures.  Advanced analytics and machine learning generate predictive insights, allowing optimized maintenance scheduling that addresses potential issues before they cause unplanned downtime. 

GE's digital twins for jet engines involve creating software representations of physical assets to optimize efficiency and detect problems. These twins are crucial for early warnings of degradation, failures, and performance issues, allowing timely interventions. GE's digital twins focus on specific problems, collect pertinent data, and incorporate physics and AI models for accurate predictions. By leveraging digital twins, GE has saved customers significant amounts and enhanced operational efficiency.

Production Optimization

Digital twins help optimize workflows, reduce bottlenecks, and enhance resource utilization by simulating different scenarios, predicting faults, and identifying areas for improvement. Using this technology leads to increased operational efficiency and higher throughput. Additionally, digital twins enable manufacturers to anticipate and address quality issues before they affect the final product, ensuring consistent and superior product quality.

Integrating digital twins in manufacturing results in streamlined operations, reduced waste, and improved product performance. L&T Technology Services states that digital twins have proven to optimize production, with research showing that it leads to a 10% increase in revenue, a 50% lower time to market, and a 25% increase in product quality.

BMW is using digital twins to optimize its car production processes, save time, and reduce costs. The car manufacturer’s factories have been captured using 3D scan technology to create virtual models of its production sites. These 3D models allow the workforce to walk through virtual factories, visualize the production line in real time, and identify where action is needed in reality.

BMW in Hungary also worked with NVIDIA's Omniverse platform to create a virtual version of the country's factory. This digital space enables real-time collaboration across global teams to improve design and testing. For instance, a tooling planner can easily show everyone in a team where he's placed a new tool in an assembly line through the virtual factory.

Smart Cities

Urban Planning

Urban planners use digital twins to visualize and manage city infrastructure, including transportation networks, utilities, and public services. By simulating different scenarios, they can optimize traffic flow, reduce congestion, and improve public transport efficiency. Digital twins also help manage utilities like water, electricity, and waste, ensuring efficient resource use and timely maintenance. Furthermore, they aid in emergency response planning by predicting the impact of natural disasters and enabling better preparedness. Digital twins ultimately enhance urban living conditions by creating more intelligent, sustainable, and resilient cities.

The Virtual Singapore project is a groundbreaking initiative that has created a highly detailed 3D digital twin of the country. Various government agencies can access the digital city to manage city assets and green spaces and improve decision-making. By integrating real-time data from sensors across Singapore, the dynamic model can simulate scenarios like evacuations and crowd dispersion to help emergency services plan what to do in case of a mishap. For less dramatic scenarios, city planners can also use the map to analyze transport flows and pedestrian movements to prevent bottlenecks and ensure a more efficient flow of movement around the city.

Infrastructure Management

A virtual replica of a physical structure, such as roads, bridges, buildings, and network infrastructure, helps design, test, and maintain these assets. A 3D replica of a highway can help understand traffic conditions and make future changes to its design based on current bottlenecks. KPMG reports that governments that use digital twins can cut design costs and construction permitting times by half and reduce maintenance costs by a fifth. This efficiency allows governments and engineers to build infrastructure faster.

Digital twins collect vast amounts of data from their physical counterparts, which makes it easy to detect early signs of wear and tear, corrosion, or potential failures, allowing for proactive maintenance and timely interventions. This predictive capability helps prevent catastrophic failures and extends the lifespan of infrastructure. Additionally, digital twins enable city planners to optimize maintenance schedules, reducing repair disruptions and costs. These digital models enhance safety, reliability, and efficiency in urban environments by offering a comprehensive and accurate overview of infrastructure health. 

Digital twin technology has been extensively utilized for urban development and sustainability initiatives in the City of Helsinki. Helsinki's pioneering digital twin program, known as Helsinki 3D+, has revolutionized city planning by creating a detailed digital twin of the entire city. This initiative incorporates advanced technologies like 3D rendering, CAD modeling, and real-time simulations. The project significantly enhances infrastructure management by allowing real-time monitoring and proactive maintenance of infrastructure assets like buildings, roads, and vegetation. By facilitating stakeholder collaboration, the digital twin ensures informed decision-making and promotes smart city development, making Helsinki a model for advanced urban management.

Energy

Power Plant Optimization

Digital twins help power generation plants optimize fuel consumption, reduce emissions, and enhance efficiency. They enable condition-based maintenance of assets like boilers and gas turbines, ensuring timely interventions and reducing downtime. Additionally, digital twins support remote monitoring and decision-making, improving safety and compliance while minimizing operational costs. Overall, they drive more sustainable and efficient power plant operations.

Siemens Energy uses NVIDIA's Omniverse platform to create digital twins for predictive maintenance of power plants. They simulate steam and water flow to optimize maintenance schedules and predict corrosion effects. Their digital twin of a gas turbine in the Middle East for Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) uses real-time data to offset age-related performance losses, boosting output by up to 3.5 MW and reducing NOx emissions by 10%.

Renewable Energy Management 

Maintaining optimal performance is crucial for renewable energy assets like wind turbines and solar panels. Digital twins facilitate continuous monitoring and analysis of data across numerous parameters. Insights from digital twins enable renewable energy operators to shift from scheduled maintenance to predictive maintenance models. By simulating various scenarios and responding to dynamic changes in energy supply and demand, digital twins enhance grid stability and ensure efficient energy distribution. Engineers building wind and solar farms can use digital twins to understand the best configuration to optimize energy production. These design optimizations can include understanding the most efficient blades or ideal turbine location to maximize output.

National Grid is utilizing digital twins to manage the UK's electricity network. The UK is developing a digital twin of future multi-vector energy systems to support its 2050 net-zero objectives. This initiative involves creating an integrated energy system, a digital twin powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, to simulate supply and demand scenarios and network configurations. The 3D digital replica also helps identify risks, predict failures, and ensure better asset management. National Grid also partnered with Costain along with Open Energi, by connecting water assets to the Open Energi platform so that the load on the grid can be reduced during peak times, supporting demand-side management.

Retail and consumer goods

Supply Chain Management

A digital twin can model various components and processes involved in the supply chain, including warehouses, transportation networks, and production facilities. This model enables real-time monitoring, analysis, and optimization of the supply chain, enhancing efficiency, sustainability, and resource management.

Unilever is leveraging digital twins to optimize its supply chain. The company has implemented a digital twin strategy to create virtual models of its factories for soap, shampoos, and conditioners, using real-time sensor data from machines to enhance efficiency and flexibility. By incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that provide real-time information on performance variables like temperature and motor speed, Unilever can analyze operational data through advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to identify optimal operational conditions, predict maintenance needs, and reduce disruptions that could lead to poor product quality and waste. This initiative has already proven successful, with Unilever's Valinhos, Brazil factory saving approximately $2.8 million and experiencing a 1% to 3% increase in productivity. The company plans to deploy virtual twins of more plants globally to further optimize production, reduce waste, and enhance efficiency in its supply chain operations.

Customer Experience

Digital twins significantly enhance customer experiences by simulating and improving product interactions. These virtual models replicate physical products, allowing companies to analyze and optimize every aspect of the product life cycle, from design to customer use. Companies can use digital twins to simulate how customers interact with their products in various scenarios. Analyzing these scenarios allows for identifying and rectifying potential issues before the products reach the market, ensuring higher quality and reliability. Companies can also use digital twins to enhance customers' real-world in-store shopping experience. Brands that launch digital twins of stores or showrooms can use them to analyze customers' behavior, like navigating through a store, browsing products, and trying them on. 

For instance, Nike launched NIKELAND, an immersive experience on Roblox, which also has a virtual store that customers can visit. Nike can use this digital store to improve customer experience in physical stores by modifying the merchandising or layout based on customer purchasing insights. They can also enhance online purchase experiences by analyzing customer data, including preferences, buying patterns, and feedback. Digital stores enhanced with AI algorithms can create personalized recommendations, advertisements, and offers based on this data. This level of personalization enhances the customer's engagement with the brand and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases.

Aerospace and defense

Aircraft Design

Digital twins enable engineers to optimize aircraft designs, perform stress and fatigue testing, and predict performance under various conditions without requiring extensive physical prototypes. This ability to run tests ensures that safety and performance standards are rigorously met. Additionally, digital twins aid in regulatory compliance, predictive maintenance, and continuous performance monitoring while providing realistic training simulations for pilots and crews. 

Boeing is leveraging digital twins to revolutionize aircraft design by creating virtual replicas that simulate and analyze performance under various conditions. Critical applications include virtual prototyping, which allows rapid design iterations without costly physical prototypes, and optimized aerodynamics, where simulations help reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. Digital twins also enhance structural integrity by enabling engineers to analyze stress and fatigue, leading to better material choices and manufacturing processes. This approach has led to a 40% improvement in the quality of parts, with Boeing planning to digitize all engineering and development systems for greater efficiency and collaboration within its supply chain.

Mission Simulations

Digital twins are revolutionizing military operations by providing detailed, real-time simulations for better planning an execution. These virtual replicas allow for comprehensive mission planning by modeling variables such as terrain and enemy movements, leading to optimized strategies. They enhance training by offering realistic scenarios for soldiers to refine their skills.

Lockheed Martin leverages digital twins for mission simulations, enhancing its aerospace and defense capabilities. Lockheed Martin's ARISE Simulation & Data Analytics technology has been utilized to simulate complex missions, significantly benefiting various defense programs. For example, the Advanced Rapid Integration Simulation Environment (ARISE) has been instrumental in developing and testing the US Army's Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) program. By creating a system-level simulation of weapons and sensors, ARISE allows for rapid prototyping and integration, drastically reducing the time required to field new solutions​​.

Additionally, Lockheed Martin has employed integrated Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) to simulate mission trajectories for space missions, such as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. This simulation capability enables the replication and analysis of various mission parameters, aiding in the design and operational planning phases​​.

Jun 4, 2024

Callum Moates

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Landvault is building infrastructure to accelerate the metaverse economy, by building tools to create, deploy and monetize content. The company has helped over 200 clients enter the metaverse, including both Fortune 500 companies and government organizations like the Abu Dhabi government, Mastercard, L’Oreal, Red Bull, and Heineken. The company has raised a total of $40m over the past three years and continues to pioneer technological advancements.

We build infrastructure for the 3D internet,
to create a richer, fairer internet.

Copyright ©️ 2023

Landvault · Wam Group

All rights reserved

Company

We build infrastructure for the 3D internet,
to create a richer, fairer internet.

Copyright ©️ 2023 · Landvault · Wam Group · All rights reserved

Company

We build infrastructure for the 3D internet,
to create a richer, fairer internet.

Copyright ©️ 2023 · Landvault · Wam Group · All rights reserved

Company