By John Murray
The previous blog in this series discussed the importance of carefully considering how organisations regard the technology that they adopt. This has always been true, but almost limitless connectivity is proving to be quite the accelerant, enabling new models and disruptive approaches.
Big changes in outlook and approach are naturally difficult. What’s less obvious is that sometimes this difficulty can stem from fairly mundane root causes. These might include things like administration, training, or habits. These things can appear conceptually easy to change, but typically takes time.
The digital twin is defined as an electronic repository of geometric, performance and simulation data associated with a physical asset, whether existing or proposed.
It’s a powerful concept. A complete digital twin opens up the possibility for a range of extremely valuable activities to be undertaken sooner and data to be gathered throughout a lifecycle, virtually and accelerated or actual, of the asset itself. It can become a bit of a virtuous cycle as well; real life data validates simulation, increasing accuracy and trust and improving the outcomes for the second iteration.
However, the thing to avoid is the focus staying only on those at the upstream end of the product life cycle: the designers and production engineers. At all costs, we must avoid having the digital twin become like the penny farthing; that is to say, only serving a select group, at the exclusion of all others.
Who, then, are the ‘others’? Those who must build your product, those who operate it, those who certify or who sign it off, those who insure it, those who maintain it, those who use it, those who might need to access it in an emergency, those who may need to conduct operations around it: multiple stakeholders across varied disciplines and specialties. The point here is that there are a huge number of actors who might benefit from having access to elements of the data pool contained within the digital twin.
That this isn’t happening now isn’t a massive surprise – the digital twin concept itself is still evolving and finding its feet. Widening the user base of a digital twin first requires us to consider what some of the more fundamental barriers are which stand in the way of maximising the use of an extremely valuable resource.
We’ll get into this in the next blog, at least from the perspective of the end user: those who might wish to pull something from the digital twin, but find they cannot.