digital twin consortium

Digital twin. Do you know what it is and what it is for?

If you are fans of Stanley Kubrick, you have surely seen 2001: A Space Odyssey , a film released in 1968 and one of Kubrick’s great works in which we can see how the HAL 9000 computer spoke with the astronauts and was capable of managing and monitor the spacecraft. It was also one of the first times that we were able to see how artificial intelligence rebelled against its creator, a plot (too) exploited over the years. As a curiosity, the name of the computer is a reference to the computer giant at that time, IBM. Although HAL corresponds to “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer”, you only have to look at the following letters of the alphabet to see the relationship: HI / AB / LM. Fifty-five years after the film’s release, Kubrick’s computer has ceased to be science fiction and has become a reality of Industry 4.0 . 

Already in 1991 David Gelernter talked about digital twins in his book “Mirror Worlds”; However, the first to apply it to the manufacturing concept was Michael Grieves, from the Florida Institute of Technology, in 2002. Finally, NASA (who else) first adopted the digital twin concept.

Once the introduction is done, it is time for the presentations. What is a digital twin? If I had to describe it without having read a single definition, I suppose I would say that it is a virtual thing equal to another. However, I do not believe that this definition is enough to explain what digital twins are in their entirety. A more specific definition of the digital twin would be the one that describes it as a digital representation of an object , system or process, a virtual replica made in the image and likeness of something real. 

What is a digital twin for?

The creation of a digital twin makes it possible to analyze, optimize and understand an object. In this way, the ability to experiment is generated , reducing risks , a very useful process in manufacturing processes. By collecting data and, thanks to the digital twin, we can perform tests, plan different scenarios and make the necessary customizations to the product. 

Likewise, you can carry out real-time monitoring , reduce maintenance costs, increase productivity , offer added value and improve decision making by having greater knowledge .

What types of digital twins are there?

There are 3 types of digital twins, classified according to the point in the production process: 

  • Digital Twin Prototype (DTP) – Generated when the product has not yet been created; This way you can see what it would look like and how it would behave.
  • Digital twin instance (DTI) : once the product is created, the digital twin is used to simulate different scenarios and the behavior of the product in them.
  • Digital Twin Aggregate (DTA) : The data and information collected in the DTI is used to plan its capabilities and make forecasts.

Sectors in which digital twins are used

Gartner, a global consulting firm, included digital twins in its Top 10 Technology Trends in 2018. They also predicted, 50% of large industrial companies would apply digital twins in their processes. These figures show us that custom enterprise software development like digital twins have a place in numerous sectors and we are going to highlight three of them:

  • Industrial and manufacturing sector

Digital twins not only serve to replicate a product but we can simulate the entire manufacturing process . Thanks to the use of digital twins, we can test, for example, an engine before manufacturing it and test it before putting it into production. Scenarios such as breakdowns or maintenance processes can also be generated , which allows us to optimize deadlines and costs. The production chain also benefits from the use of digital twins since by having a replica of the product, the process to follow to achieve it is perfectly known. 

  • Health sector

In 2018, in Chicago, Siemen Healthineers presented a way to unite digital twins and health, adapting them to human organs . In this way it will be possible to anticipate a diagnosis or predict the behavior of an organ to a treatment or operation and, in this way, improve processes and treatments to save more lives.

Likewise, digital twins can be used to predict the performance of equipment or even to compare patient data and find a correlation between them. 

  • Automotive industry

If we want to talk about software development solutions like digital twins and the automotive sector we have to do it, without a doubt, about Tesla . All Tesla cars have a virtual simulation thanks to the sensors with which the vehicle is equipped. Thanks to this and artificial intelligence it is possible to predict certain breakdowns or failures. 

Furthermore, thanks to digital twins, the production of individual parts, vehicles and even the factories themselves and everything that the process entails such as design, production and storage can be improved. 


We are in a continuous process of custom enterprise software development in which advances in the so-called Industry 4.0 are constant. Everyone wants the most optimized processes, the fastest, the most efficient and also, of course, the cheapest.

Digital twins are here to stay , there is no doubt. They represent the desire of many, the way to predict scenarios and, in this way, improve production processes and reduce costs. They open the possibility of knowing how a product is going to work without having spent a single resource to produce it, of knowing if it is going to be profitable, if it is going to break down. And, as we have seen, digital twins will also be capable of saving lives thanks to their application in the health sector. 

Also read:

IoT Application Development: Understanding its Different Aspects

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