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In Design Last updated: January 4, 2023
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The future-ready businesses create, troubleshoot, update, and innovate physical or digital products efficiently with digital twins. Don’t know what it is? Find below!

The Internet of Things (IoT) enables businesses to collect massive amounts of data from the real world. When applied for commercial reasons, IoT revolutionizes various manufacturing and service delivery processes. It also helps businesses to create real-time simulations for new and existing products/services.  

An advanced level of simulation or digital twin concept powered by IoT gives you accurate data from the field.

If you learn the digital twin concept technically and theoretically, you open a vast opportunity.

You can build solutions as a digital twin agency for big businesses or secure high-paying jobs in top companies. Not to mention, you can also use technology in your business. So, let’s learn what, how, why, and everything else about the digital twin.    

What Is Digital Twin?

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A digital twin is a virtual and computerized model for physical products, assets, workforce, business process workflows, and digital software.

Throughout the product lifecycle, the digital twin gets real-time data via sensors and survey inputs. A data analysis algorithm analyzes the collected data to show future predictions.

Thus, the product development team can debug any product, improve the product on the next development cycle, discover novel business ideas, and more.

There could be digital twins for anything that is of business interest. Everything can be replicated within a computer program, from a simple product warehouse to a company head office, space crafts, offshore oil rigs, hyperloop systems, CRMs, and cyber security software.     

How Does Digital Twin Work?

The journey of a digital twin begins with the graphical replica creation of a physical object. For example, if you want a digital replica of an office building, you use any CAD software for building architecture. Then, you can also use 3D scanners for various internal spaces of the building to make the digital replica almost real.

Next, you need to place IoT devices for data collection. These could be thermostats, OCR-enabled smart security cameras, mesh Wi-Fi boxes, temperature sensors, water sensors, air sensors, ambient sound sensors, and more.

Using one or more edge analytics devices, you can collect valuable data from these IoT devices and sensors. After local analysis, you can store the data in the cloud and use the insights to build a live model of the building on a computer using the CAD model.

The digital twin will replicate everything happening inside the building. With a continuous stream of data, you can forecast footfalls, electricity usage, Wi-Fi coverage, AC usage, optimal commercial space utilization, and more.    

Types of Digital Twin

#1. Business Asset Twins

When two or more business components work together to deliver valuable results, you call it a business asset. Now, when you create digital twins of such assets, you get asset twins.

Such digital replicas help you study components’ real-world interaction and collect performance data for process improvements.  

#2. Twins of Parts or Components

Components or parts twins are digital replicas of the smallest unit of a business process. For example, a conveyer, a robotic arm, etc., can be digitally modeled on a computer program for simulation purposes.  

#3. Unit or System Twins

Unit twins are digital replicas with live working data for business systems that can produce an intermediate of a product or a finished product. For example, a mineral water bottling machine produces packed mineral water for the labeling unit.   

#4. Process or Wokflow Twins

The workflow or process-level digital twins are the highest states for digital replicas. For example, creating a digital simulation of a real-life vehicle manufacturing plant is a process twin.

Process twins show how the human workforce, robotic assets, production units, and other minute equipment work together to produce cars.  

Digital Twin Vs. Simulation

Though both sound the same, find below the fine differences in this table: 

Features/AttributesDigital TwinSimulation
ScaleSmaller business systems to massive manufacturing plants. Usually, businesses use the simulation for specific needs on a small scale. For example, flying airplanes or simulating a cyberattack.  
Live DataReal-time data collected from the environment where the digitized object performs is at the core of digital twin technology.A simulation does not require real-time data inputs. 
Scope of StudyYou can study a whole business or a minute task.The simulation focuses on one task at a time. 
Insight SharingA digital twin automatically shares output insights with the physical object or process.A simulation does not share insights automatically. You need to implement the results manually.  

Use Cases of Digital Twin

#1. Manufacturing

Digital twins are here to mirror a product’s lifecycle. Hence, you would not be surprised to know that digital twins have become indispensable in all manufacturing phases, guiding products from the design stage to the finished product and all other steps.

#2. Healthcare


Just like products and services, patients can also benefit from digital twin technology. A range of healthcare IoT devices will collect data at different levels.

Experts can apply such healthcare data and treatment strategies on a digital replica to simulate the situation. This approach generates the best possible ways to treat a medical condition. 

#3. Automobile

Vehicles contain many types of complex, variable, and co-functioning systems. Designers and engineers use digital twins extensively in auto design and manufacturing. 

This approach improves vehicles, minimizes production costs, and generates massive revenue for the automotive industry. 

#4. Retail

Big shopping chains have already applied digital twin technology in their shopping malls and plazas. 

They collect customer data through an array of IoT devices that track customer sentiment on product displays, packaging, the choice for a specific brand, pricing considerations, and more. 

Then, by analyzing such data, retail marketing teams can create retail strategies to maximize sales. 

Uses of Digital Twin in IoT

IoT and digital twin technology are interconnected. You need to deploy IoT devices to gather live data about the real object and transfer the data to the digital replica in a computer server.

Since IoTs can communicate among themselves and with a central server, it becomes easy to collect holistic data about the physical object you monitor. IoT devices constantly feed data so the digital twin model can analyze and present performance insights.

Similarly, IoT manufacturers can also create a digital replica of one device or a whole home or office and test the efficacy of various IoT devices they are willing to develop.

For example, an IoT manufacturer can create a simulation of a smart home using CAD and 3D scanning of the physical home. Then, on its digital twin, it can place various IoT devices in different positions and find out if they can connect with the home Wi-Fi or need improvements.  

Benefits of Digital Twin

Find below the advantages that your business enjoys when you implement this technology: 

#1. Improved Efficiency

When a new product is in its manufacturing phase, you can optimize the whole process in real-time, replace faulty plant equipment, prevent accidents, and minimize system downtime. 

#2. Cost-Effective R&D

With a digital twin copy of a real-world product or service, you have tons of performance data in a centralized server. 

Hence, you can slice and dice data to make predictions and form hypotheses. If such hypotheses work, you discover novel products, services, or revenue models out of existing products and services.

#3. Better Performance

You can also ensure constant peak performance of products and services by collecting real-time data using IoT and projecting the data on digital twins.

For example, any upcoming system faults would automatically appear on your screen. You can safely shut down the process and immediately replace the equipment to avoid losing production hours.  

#4. Worry-Free Monitoring

For hazardous manufacturing equipment, you can leverage remote monitoring using a digital twin model.

#5. Prediction

The manufacturing and hospitality industry can accurately predict their production or servicing capabilities for large orders. 

#6. Minimal Production Time

Furthermore, you can greatly reduce faults, impurities, and production time for a product by simulating various faults and issues on its digital twin. After you find solutions, apply those to the product to improve it.  

#7. Product End-Of-Life Management 

Manufacturers can plan end-of-life management or recycling strategies upfront, even before producing the prototypes.

Digital replicas can also offer insights into hazardous materials so that product designers can use safer alternatives. 

Digital Twin Challenges

Like any new technology, digital twin also faces some challenges, and these are:

  • IoT sensors collect massive data from the real world for the digital twin program. But efficient and timely analysis of huge data sets is a great challenge.
  • Before you can analyze data, you need to process it through data cleansing and formatting. This is also a bottleneck.
  • Since you are collecting terabytes of data, you need to store it securely until you extract business insights. The cost of secure data storage is increasing every day.
  • Digital twin technology relies heavily on IoT. And IoT is a costly infrastructure requiring maintenance, huge storage, high-speed internet, and security monitoring.
  • Integrating the digital twin creation tool with consumption software is a great challenge. Big software developers create one-to-one integrations like CAD integration for PLM software. Thus, there is a chance for monopoly and vendor lock-in.
  • Digital twin information flow can get restricted due to third-party vendors unwilling to share internal data from their production process, supply chain, inventory, etc.
  • Finally, the technology is highly complex and has a huge learning curve. You can not just train your workforce overnight. You need to hire top-paid professionals in the beginning.

Next, you can explore the future of digital twin technology.

Future of Digital Twins

The future growth of digital twins will rely mostly on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Businesses will extend this technology application from the most expensive assets and processes to anything that relates to business growth because the cost of ownership will come down as the technology matures.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the market share of digital twin technology should become $96.49 billion by 2029.

In the future, the involvement of cloud computing, augmented reality, and IoT will also increase in digital twin implementation. Thus, these career options will see a huge requirement for skilled professionals.   

Learning Resources

Building Industrial Digital Twins

You must read the Building Industrial Digital Twins book to learn how to create a minimal viable product (MVP) using digital twin technology.

The book also covers the Microsoft Azure Digital Twin user interface, how to design, operate, and maintain industrial assets and products using digital twin technology and real-world business use and practical use cases of this cutting-edge technology.

Digital Twin A Complete Guide

Digital Twin A Complete Guide comes with digital study materials and a paperback book copy.

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Digital Twin A Complete Guide - 2021 Edition Digital Twin A Complete Guide – 2021 Edition No ratings yet $81.16

You will develop questioning and answering capabilities on digital twin technology by studying this resource. Finally, there is a self-assessment at the end of the book. 

Digital Twin: Beginner’s Guide

Digital Twin: Beginner’s Guide helps you to assess if you need this future-ready technology to resolve business problems. Also, it helps you to understand if you need to train your workforce with digital twins.

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Different assessment modules particularly help consultants, advisors, managers, professionals, and more. 

Digital Twin: Philosophy for the New Digital Revolution

Digital Twin Philosophy for the new digital revolution

By attending the virtual course on Digital Twin, you can understand the existence, reality, and future progression of digital twin technology.

This 33-minute learning content will focus on the following:

  • New digital twin protocols
  • BIM in the digital twin age
  • Gemini principles
  • Digital revolution  

The course contains 5 video lectures.

Digital Twin: A Comprehensive Overview

Digital Twin A Comprehensive Overview

This Digital Twin comprehensive overview course is perfect for learning digital twin concepts and technologies from the ground up. In 18 sections, you will find 46 video lectures that you can watch as much as you want until you understand the gist.

The course will cover Industry 4.0, digital twin implementation, challenges, career opportunities, and many more.  

Final Words

So far, you have learned the basic concepts of digital twins from its foundation level. You have also discovered some learning and reading resources that could aid you in your journey to master the digital twin technology for business, agencies, or as a professional.

Next, check out the best cyber attack simulation tools.

  • Tamal Das
    Tamal is a freelance writer at Geekflare. After completing his MS in Science, he joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of IT technologies and business management. Now, he’s a professional freelance content… read more
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