Envitia’s Senior Data Consultant Ireti Ajala examines how Digital Twin and Thread can be powerful tools to improve operation agility and resilience.
You may not have heard of the concepts of Digital Twin and Digital Thread (together known as DTAT) but they are quickly becoming important tools for organisations across a number of sectors.
These concepts originated with the Defence industry, especially the military aircraft sector, as a way of improving the performance of future programmes. However, they are now gaining traction and interest in other fields such as digital manufacturing, asset management, geospatial, logistics and urban planning.
Envitia has been operating in the DTAT sphere for several years working with organisations in the public and private sector. Below we set out the benefits of a DTAT programme and why this could be advantageous for your customers.
What is a Digital Twin?
A Digital Twin is a real-time virtual copy of a real-world physical asset, process, system or environment that looks like and behaves identically to its counterpart. A Digital Twin ingests data and replicates processes so a user can predict possible performance outcomes and issues that the real-world product/asset or process might undergo.
What is a Digital Thread?
Digital Thread on the other hand is a communication framework that connects traditionally siloed elements in asset management, urban planning, manufacturing processes and so on.
For example, a product/asset lifecycle usually follows a certain pattern: Conceptualisation, Design, Build, Operate, Maintain, and Decommission. This pattern is often managed through some sort of Lifecycle Management process and each stage represents a specific Digital Twin capability.
A Digital Thread is like a digital chain connecting all the Digital Twin capabilities. This provides an integrated view with traceability of a real-world asset, process or environment with real-world data.
Isolated Digital Twin and Digital Thread technologies provide significant benefits by themselves. However, the real value comes when the technologies are combined. The combination of the 2 complementing concepts is what is often called “Digital Twin and Thread” or #DTAT.
We can help organisations looking to leverage Digital Twin and Thread (DTAT) benefits by developing a framework that will give them early discovery of processes and system performance deficiencies including simulating results way before physical processes and product are developed.
Benefits of DTAT
1. Reduce Costs
Having better data and designs from the start pays dividends over a project’s lifetime, as 80–90% of costs incurred during the build/production, use, and maintenance of a facility are determined at the design stage.
2. Improve Stakeholder Communication
Using DTAT throughout the product/asset/process lifecycle can also improve multi-user collaboration and communication. The data from DTAT can reduce cost and improve quality of customer support and compliance.
3. Maximise Flexibility
DTAT provides organisations with the benefit of the end-to-end life-cycle visibility of the product or assets and provides a very powerful tool to improve their operation agility and resiliency. This is exactly what they need in today’s rapidly changing world.
It also provides a formal framework for controlled interplay of authoritative technical and as-built data with the ability to access, integrate, transform, and analyse data from disparate systems throughout the asset/product lifecycle into actionable information.
4. Improve KPIs
Using information gathered from DTAT is an effective way of improving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including shorter time to market, reduced development, and operations costs, including improved customer propositions.
Getting started with DTAT
It’s one thing to gather extensive data from different Digital Twins throughout the lifecycle of a product or process but it’s quite another to consume it in an intelligent way. The best decisions are made using data, but an organisation’s data is only as good as its ability to bring it to life to simulate and predict business scenarios.
However, DTAT is not just about data or technology. It also requires knowledge, specific skillsets and business processes that help weave data-driven decision management into the geospatial solutions, manufacturing or asset management culture.
Every enterprise going through a digital transformation risk is drowning in raw data before finding a way to process and leverage it. Today, capturing raw data is less of a challenge but the main challenge is unlocking the power of information as enterprise and IoT data have been buried in databases, spreadsheets, and models (CAD, BIM, Geospatial).
Envitia’s DTAT expertise can bring that data to life. Implementing DTAT requires the experience of working with innovative data solution providers which raises the bar for delivering “the right information to the right place at the right time.”
By Ireti Ajala
Senior Data Consultant, Envitia