Digital Twin Software
The process industries are embracing and implementing advanced digital technologies to optimize production processes and remain competitive. The digital transformation journey is well underway for most organizations. Digital twin software—virtualized copies of a company’s physical assets and its operating behaviors—can play a key role in this journey.
Digital twin software allows companies to manipulate a piece of equipment, or even entire facility, as a digital representation of its actual assets.
For redesigns of equipment or processes, many firms turn to digital models of their production lines. These can be very detailed and dynamic. If the digital twin software enables the “twin” to respond the same way the real-world asset behaves, it is often sufficient to be used as a decision-making tool.
A digital twin isn’t just a model; it can be manipulated and adjusted like a real-world object, and it will behave like the modeled asset. Digital twin technology seeks to reproduce an object’s smallest details, and digital twin software allows the various components of an object to interact realistically.
A digital twin adds more depth than a process simulation; instead of an abstract and generalized model of a piece of equipment, digital twin software maintains a physical representation of the object. This means design changes can be implemented on the computer, and the real-world consequences can be simulated. With more basic process simulation software, design changes to the physical structure must be abstracted. For example, if you were to change the shape of a heat sink in digital twin software, the software itself would compute the effects on heat exchange, whereas in process simulator software the changes in heat flow would need to be coded separately.
Digital twin software can also be connected to the live sensor data from industrial assets and equipment. The industrial internet of things has brought a networked suite of sensors to countless facilities, and these devices can be linked to the digital representations in the digital twin software. Not only does this allow for further refinement of the digital twin, but it can alert operators to unexpected changes in equipment function when the sensor data diverges from the expected behavior.
One of the most dramatic changes in the modern world has been the rapidly falling cost of digital technology. The ENIAC, the first reprogrammable digital computer, cost the equivalent of five million dollars in today’s currency when it was completed in 1946. The computer required 174 kilowatts of power to operate, but could perform calculations in thirty seconds that would have taken twenty hours to do manually
Today, the same computing power would cost pennies and run off a watch battery. Computing is inexpensive, and digital representations can be saved and loaded at will, allowing one machine to serve as the home for a wide range of digital twins.
Making changes to a digital twin in digital twin software only entails the click of a mouse and the time of the technician using the computer, whereas the same changes in the real world could result in catastrophe. A faithful digital twin makes it unnecessary to risk a physical asset on experimental arrangements and parameters, allowing for more experimentation and greater innovation.
Every private industrial operation is constrained by the bottom line. Once a process is in place, production optimization is limited by the amount of changes that can be performed while remaining profitable. Because of this, margins may be at a local maximum, in which the best way to maximize profits in the short term is to keep the current arrangement. Keeping profits at a local maximum is not profitable over the long term, but because it would require so much downtime to achieve proper production optimization, it is unfeasible to make the changes due to the extended downtime.
Digital twin software lets companies test any changes to its operations or discover the optimal parameters for a piece of equipment digitally first, without risking valuable assets and before rolling it out to the real Worldfest.
How do you run digital twin software?
Digital twin software can be run on a local machine, preferably with powerful specifications. It can also be run in the cloud and accessed through web portals which can be accessed from any device.
Does industrial digitalization use digital twin software?
Industrial digitalization refers to a broader practice of using digital technologies to manage industrial operations. Digital twin software may be included in industrial digitalization practices, but a company using digital twin technology isn’t necessarily one that has adopted industrial digitalization.