There are starting to be so many components, processes and products having a digital twin that there is the interest and need in connecting them in networks (watch the SAP clip).
The digital transformation makes possible to operate in the cyberspace, decreasing processing and transaction cost. Digital Twins create a bridge between the world of atoms and the world of bits creates digital models. Supply and manufacturing make use of digital processes and digitally controlled machines (CAM) creating a digital thread, the products are developed to be connected and to relay operational data, thus creating digital shadows. Digital Twins are a fall-out of the value chain.
All of this is also pushing towards an evolution of the paradigm of Digital Twin and we have already reached what is called stage 3 (in several applications, whilst in others we are still at stage 1 and 2).
As shown in the figure:
- in the first stage we only have the physical twin, although its development has generated a substantial stream of data that have been used in its design/manufacturing. Several industries may be at this stage, having plenty of data that have been created during the design that are not leveraged in the subsequent steps.
- in the second stage the Digital Twin assumes its own identity and exists along the physical entity. Notice that in this stage what was a Digital Model/data related to a manufacturing process of an object, becomes instantiated and coupled to a specific instance of a physical entity, no longer the model a turbine but the model of a specific turbine.
- in the third stage, present status in advanced industries, the digital twin and the physical twin are connected and synchronised (i.e. the digital twin mirrors the status of the physical twin).
- in stage 4, we can expect several industries to move to this stage in the next decade, the digital twin will overlap with the physical twin with operation taking advantage of both. As I will point out in a subsequent post, there are several issues that will have to sorted out as we move to this stage.