Updated: Jul 9, 2021
Monitor and configure machinery from anywhere in the world as if you were there with digital twins and SmarTwin™.
The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) means there are connected machines in all corners of the world, from scientific instruments in the arctic to power regulators at solar farms in the desert.
Sometimes those machines have problems or need configuration changes, and it can be complicated for a technician to get there. Or the machine is connected but only feeds raw data back to the office. How do you provide a more interactive, more accurate work environment remotely? - The answer is a digital twin.
What is a Digital Twin? No, digital twins aren’t mechanized doppelgangers designed to take over your life. It’s like a virtual visualization of the actual device that you can control and interact with in real time, as though you were operating or adjusting settings on the physical device. Dashboards are great and still have many uses depending on the machine being administered, but they are limited to figures and data. To change how the machine is behaving, you need to interpret that data and then change settings or parameters on the fly. With a digital twin, there are visualizations of knobs, buttons, and gauges that mirror the actual machine itself. When you turn a knob on the digital twin, you can watch the machine’s reaction in real time based on the data it’s outputting.
Real-World Application But with SmarTwin™ IoT, the breakthrough isn’t just graphical. With such an interaction with the real-time data coming from the machine and the new level of precision input, SmarTwin™ IoT could fit a machine learning layer and rules engine on top of its digital twin. Say you are monitoring that power regulator in the middle of the desert (and perhaps dozens of others around the country) and, among other failures, a power spike can have inefficient or even dangerous consequences. Traditionally, technicians would have to be available as long as that pump was running to make sure the voltage stayed at a manageable level. With SmarTwin™ IoT, you can set a rule for acceptable voltage levels. Anything outside that range can trigger the automatic activation of a particular fuse or some other troubleshooting action, avoiding a potentially expensive failure. It can also alert a technician or manager that it took those preventative steps. On the machine learning side, all that data then goes into informing a more efficient maintenance schedule for the regulator.
This digital twin of a water pump shows everything about the pump's performance from TeamViewer.
Think you need state-of-the-art machinery to take advantage of IoT and digital twins? Not necessarily. And this doesn’t require a “rip-and-replace” approach, swapping out legacy machines with new smart machines. How? One word: Retrofit. With basic sensors and an ecosystem of integrations with preconfigured IoT gateways, you can take legacy machines and connect them instantly. Basically, if it feeds data, you can probably make a digital twin. The Internet of Things is opening up use cases and benefits for our machines that are limited only by our imaginations. In the case of digital twins, we know that machines can be run more efficiently, safely, and maintenance schedules can be optimized to minimize machine downtime. Add in the convenience gained for the humans involved and it’s worth thinking about how digital twins could change your operations.