What is the Digital Twins Technology?
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is a technology that allows engineers to create a “twin” or a replica of physical objects such as vehicles, airplanes, and engines among others. For the digital twin technology to work efficiently, it involves connecting the actual physical object to the replica or virtual model of the object. Also, sensors are used to collect real time or near real time data to facilitate the connection between the physical object and the virtual model of the object.
In the case of airplanes, especially commercial airplanes, the digital twins’ technology is being used to create a virtual model of the flying planes that can then be used by engineers to monitor its condition when it’s flying. This technology was first conceptualized in the year 2000 and has been adopted in a lot of industries such as the health industry, automotive industry, and manufacturing industry.
The airline industry is also not left behind when it comes to adopting this technology. We all know how safety is crucial in commercial airlines, and the digital twins technology has helped make commercial airlines safer.
BOEING AND THE DT TECHNOLOGY
Boeing is one of the leading companies in producing commercial and military airplanes. By using the digital twins’ technology, Boeing has been able to achieve up to 40% improvement in the quality of parts and systems that they build for specific airplanes, both commercial and military. According to Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, this technology is and will continue being the most important aspect in achieving production efficiency today and in the future.
This technology is revolutionizing how Boeing designs its planes by providing an accurate simulation of how the plane will function before the actual manufacturing of the plane. We live in a very technologically advanced world where there are software capable of providing both the 2D and 3D simulations of the planes. These simulations depict how all the parts of the Boeing plane will function while it’s in the air. This software also simulates the environments and conditions that the plane will face. Isn’t that incredible?
This model-based engineering model has helped commercial airline companies such as Boeing deliver value and quality products to their customers. Boeing has successfully used the model-based engineering in building the ARDF (Air Data Reference Function) for the Boeing 777x. This function helps provide numerical data to pilots in the cockpit by converting the planes, environment physical data to digital data. Boeing has experienced a great improvement in production, and according to Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO, this is just the beginning.
NASA AND THE DIGITAL TWINS TECHNOLOGY
NASA is known to have used a form of digital twins technology to save the Apollo 13 mission when it experienced some problems. This means that digital twins can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s. The technology used by NASA then is the mirrored systems. Today, NASA still uses the digital twins technology to monitor the satellites in their orbits.
DT technology functions through a system where machines have sensors that are connected to the cloud. These sensors collect and send real-time data to manufacturers on the ground. The manufacturers have software that can simulate how their machines are functioning even when they are far away through edge analysis.
INTERNET OF THINGS
The digital twins technology can’t function without the IoT (Internet of Things). Wi-Fi, very affordable sensors and the ability of the cloud to hold and share a lot of information at the same time makes it possible for the digital twins technology not only to be used for small scale planes but even for large scale productions such as the commercial airlines.
Availability of real-time data helps manufacturers improve the efficiency of their products, improve the design and become more innovative. It’s now easier to contact the customers and ask for their suggestions and implement them. This technology also helps to save on the cost and time taken to come up with the perfect design for a plane.
The digital twins technology involves creating a replica of the physical object and connecting the physical object, in this case, the plane with sensors that are connected to the cloud. These sensors then send real-time information to the ground to create 3D simulations of how the airplane is functioning. This technology is changing how many airline industries are designing their planes helping them improve on efficiency and safety.