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5 Top Tips For Building A Digital Twin

Written by

Jacques Bonfrer

Jacques Bonfrer

"Build a Digital Twin" has definitely been one of the key buzz terms in 2021.  And yes, here at Bot-Hive, we've decided to jump on that bandwagon as well.  But what actually is a digital twin and how do you go about developing one for your business? 

We've put together an introductory guide to explain what a digital twin means to us, why they're incredibly valuable and how to go about building a digital twin for your business.


Background & Definition

Cloud-hosted technologies has made planning and design software far more accessible than ever before.  Take the home refurbishment market as an example.  End customers can now go onto various supplier websites and design their space in a digital environment first before needing to spend a penny on physical products.  We've all experienced those horror moments where we've ordered a new piece of furniture, unboxed it and realise that it doesn't quite fit the space we had in mind.  In today's world, we now have the capability of simulating our homes first, to ensure issues like this don't occur.  This is an example of how digital twins support planning and pre-purchase decisions.

In other examples and arguably in more common form, the term digital twin is the coined phrase to describe real time data being captured from a machine and/or a process.  A digital twin covers the full life cycle of a machine's actions or a wider full process and uses simulation to present a mirror image back to the user about what is happening in a particular process.  In more advanced versions of digital twinning, these virtual feedback loops and simulated representations are supplemented with Machine Learning capabilities to provide recommendations to further support the end user's decision making.


Benefits

The obvious benefits of digital twins are in their ability to provide exact replica representations of what's going in your business in areas that you weren't previously able to gain access to meaningful data.  In short, digital twins help us understand what's happening now so we can make better decisions for the future.  In some cases this information is presented back to us in pure data forms, in other cases more visual representations of this information are presented in the forms of simulated environments or indeed AR/VR channels.

By having this data, the list of benefits and opportunities given to us becomes almost endless:

- Real time total shop floor mapping
- Access to opaque operator performance metrics and machine OEE
- A testing bed to try out alternative processes.  This is particularly useful when planning and scheduling out-of-the-ordinary variances such as holiday periods & new product launches
- Understanding how to incorporate incremental process changes without heavily disrupting existing activities
- Save huge amounts of time and money 

And many more...


Building A Digital Twin

As highlighted earlier, digital twins come in various shapes and sizes.  Given the fact they are a fast growing trend, there is no shortage in supplier options depending on what type of digital twin you are looking for.  We have over 40 suppliers listed in our data network already, so we can definitely support you in defining your requirements and helping make that selection.  

Whilst there is a broad variety of digital twins, there are definitely some commonalities which are worth highlighting:

5 Best Practice Tips When Building A Digital Twin

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1. Invest upfront in accurate data. It's an age old saying but the digital twin is only as good as the data it's working from. Invest early on in making sure the right data is implemented to guarantee quality information is being presented back to you

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2. Embed the digital twin early in your automation journey. You will being more well informed before you make important decisions and it will likely save you money in doing so

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3. Adoption is a bottom up approach as much as it is a top down approach. Introduce digital twins throughout the entire organisational structure

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4. Create a strong feedback loop. The long term objective is for the digital twin to become the Master of Control. However, during the initial transition period shop floor changes are made on the fly and not accounted for in the digital twin.

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5. Don't be afraid of the data. You've invested in building and adopting a digital twin. Use the information being presented to you and take action from it

So that's it folks;  A quick essential guide on digital twins for those of you whom the concept of a digital twin is a new one.

I hope you've found it useful and if you have any further questions about what digital twins can do for your business, please get in contact!  Whether you're looking for a custom solution or something that's off the shelf, our team can support you by identifying your user requirements and helping implementing the right solution for your organisation.


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Think Bold.
Think Bot-Hive.