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Digital Twin Defined

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Now I have seen three definitions. I am sure these examples cover the whole subject.

The first was an explanation of the digital twinning basically as “computer simulations”.

Now if I say to you, we are doing some “Digital Twinning” what would come to mind?

Not much,  you would need much more information to explain what is going on.

But if I said we are doing some “Computer Simulations” you would instantly know what I was talking about. So why “Digital Twinning”?

Here is an example of the first definition both basically related to computer simulations.

David Vasko   
Director Advanced Technology at Rockwell Automation (David is no fool)

"You had asked about what value digital twins provide.  It is a good question.  For me, the digital twin must be living.  It is a is a digital replica of a physical asset, process or system. It is a living simulation model used to provide insights. This living simulation model can be used to provide insights into the behavior of devices, machines or enterprises in the design, operate or maintenance phases. This provides real value.

For example, I used a model of a steel rolling mill to test advanced control algorithms and machine learning (Design Phase). The model was then used as a Digital Twin during operation to maintain a living simulation of the current condition of the mill (Operation Phase). Previously the mill could lose production on product changeovers until the control algorithm made adjustments to account for the current conditions of the mill, but by constantly understanding the current state of the mill equipment, the control algorithm could make the correct settings. The result was no product losses on changeovers. The Digital Twin was also used to predict when machines would wear beyond operational tolerances and needed to be replaced (Maintenance Phase). This maintenance would then be done during normally scheduled maintenance times, so no production loss would occur.

Digital Twins can be applied to many manufacturing problems. They aren’t the best solution for all cases, but I have seen real value in using them." 

The next is a video

Chad Jackson
Research analyst, thought leader (thought leader?) and blogger providing insights on technologies that enable engineering (Like, engineering was not enabled before?)

In this video Chad give three definitions of "Digital Twinning". Why in the world do we have to have different definitions of a newly InfoTech created term? Sadly, the InfoTech world is full of ambiguous title for many of their concepts. Look up PLM if you want a good chuckle? The Death of PLM

Why would different companies have the same term for a different process? It completely strains credulity!

"Hey folks. I'm hearing a lot of confusion and frustration around the definition of Digital Twins. Here, I share the three common ways people are talking about them. All three can provide value. It all depends on what your company is trying to achieve. Share if you find it valuable.

Video: Disambiguating The Digital Twin

Both of the above comments focus on "Computer Simulation"

So, why not just call it Computer Simulation?


The second example is basically nothing more than saying the 3D model is the digital twin of the physical part. Now this definition is from Siemens, not a small player in this game.

Here is digital twinning from 1998!

The image on the right is the "Physical Twin"

Since I designed it, I guarantee that the 3D model and documentation were created first!

In both definitions the 3D model was already made!

So, the 3D model is not the digital twin, but the actual part is the “Physical Twin”.

In the above examples the modeling is completely finished, the documentation released and the product is made. Don't you think much of the "Computer Simulation" was already done?

So, there is no such thing in industrial/mechanical engineering as a "Digital Twin"

You have to ask yourself, how could so many miss this obvious fact?


Now the third definition makes a bit of sense.

Principles to guide the development of the National Digital Twin released

It relates to facility or building management, a much broader application of property management and even an infrastructure of the built environment.

In this case you computer model the assets, more than likely just in simple representative shapes.

You have seen this stuff in movies where they bring up the building

“Bob, there are three armed men coming down the hall, take the next left”

 It may be a bit of overkill, but at least the term makes sense here.

But again, if I said let’s bring up the “digital twin” of the area, you would more than likely just scratch your head.

But if I said pull of the "computer representation" of the area, you would have no questions what I was taking about.

This is my shortest article.


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