Iotics: the age of the digital twin
There has been a lot of hype around digital twins, but there is now a real need for digital twins as powerful ‘digital shadows’ that are able to drive smart systems and the next generation of supply chains. These are not simply visualizations of assets, 3D models or pictorial representations; true digital twins function as ‘white boxes’, interrelating data sources from across an asset’s entire lifecycle as its semantically defined, data-based virtualization. They are comprehensive, interoperable versions of any business asset – people, places, processes or things – with access to all of its data and controls and structured and tagged, enabling it to be read directly by machines.
The inclusion of controls, as well as data, is integral to a twin’s ability to autonomously interoperate and leverage emergent pattern recognition and for AI to enrich customer-centric services. Their power lies not in what they can physically show us, but how they can securely and meaningfully interact with each other and, in doing so, create secure, scalable, adaptable digital ecosystems.
A digital twin can be made up of separate parts to create twins of components, assemblies, people, or an entire manufacturing plant and can be combined in multiple ways to create a unified access point or gateway to numerous sources of data and information.
This is not copying data, creating new data lakes, or rearchitecting legacy systems, but leveraging them through the creation of events and instances in a twin’s life that provide real-time insight into demand, supply, performance and operations. It is the ability for connected objects to talk to each other and work together to provide entirely new services.
Digital twins don’t replace existing technology or legacy investment, rather they extend capabilities, increase flexibility and mitigate the risk of businesses failing. Organizations such as Rolls-Royce are harnessing twin-based interoperable ecosystems to deliver the next generation in customer service: Customer Service 4.0.
Rolls-Royce business unit, Power System, is using digital twin and event data technology from Iotics to unlock over 200 data sources, brokering interactions to create digital twins of their in-field assets and receive real-time event insights across customer, supplier and partner boundaries.
Chief IT Digital Officer of Rolls-Royce Power Systems Jürgen Winterholler said, “Digital twin technology is helping us realize our vision of placing our customers at the heart of everything we do, exploiting digital twin technology to deliver the best service and to enable our customers’ businesses.”
Rolls-Royce Power Systems has a single source of truth for asset information. Starting within its extensive rail ecosystem, it sees the transformational potential of physical products and assets having their own digital twins that securely capture, share and exchange data and controls.
“Customer Service 4.0 means seeing the world the way your customers do, collaborating with them, their customers, and our service partners, to deliver greater efficiencies, enhanced insights and new opportunities, without compromising on the quality and security they expect from Rolls-Royce Power Systems,” added Winterholler.
But it is not just manufacturing which will benefit from this brave new digital twin world. The use cases are as varied as the twins themselves. It is not what the technology can do or what problem it solves, but what it enables us to create and co-create. Liberating us from siloed thinking and approaches enables us to focus on what matters to companies, their customers and their communities.