The concept of digital twin software has reached a pivotal point between discovery and adoption. Recent studies show that digital twins should reach widespread adoption within the next five years.
Some industry leaders suggest that digital twin technology follows a similar technological maturity pattern to where geographic information systems (GIS) was 3 decades ago, where asset management software was 2 decades ago, and perhaps where building information modeling (BIM) was 5-10 years ago.
Does this mean utility owners and infrastructure leaders should start investigating this new digital tool? Let’s walk through a few basics of digital twins, critical changes happening in the industry, and how organizations can future-proof their operational strategies.
What is a digital twin?
A digital twin sometimes also called a virtual twin is a virtual/digital representation of an object, system, or process that spans its lifecycle, is updated from near-real-time data, and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help with decision-making.
Digital twins provide several value propositions, including:
- Predictive maintenance: Digital twins can provide current conditions of an asset in operation but can also predict future behavior and conditions.
- Process optimization: Based on user-defined constraints, digital twins can optimize processes for more efficient operations.
- Energy and greenhouse gas reduction: Using constraints such as pump energy, N20, and CO2 reductions, a digital twin can optimize systems to focus on reducing these metrics.
- System integration: Digital twin adoption helps motivate organizations in their digital transformation by integrating disparate systems for the benefit of holistic decision-making.
- Remote troubleshooting: By having up to date, connected assets/systems via digital twin, organizations can troubleshoot remotely as well as train operators via models.
- What-if scenario analysis: As there is never one single answer to an operational challenge, digital twins provide us with the confidence and justification to make critical decisions that are defensible.
Digital twins in real life
A fun example to relay the real-world application of a digital twin is how this technology has transformed wave pools for surfing. Having access to waves in the middle of a landlocked state sounds like a surfer’s dream, but wave pools haven’t always been fun to surf. While wave pools have been around for many decades, the technology used to create them took some time to evolve.
The traditional method to create waves involved using physical scale models. But so many complex variables contribute to developing a perfect surfing wave and that’s where digital twin technology comes in with the ability to leverage sensors and operational control down to the 1,000th of a second. Recently, digital twin technology was used successfully to develop and refine the perfect wave. As a result of this technological breakthrough, surfing wave parks have taken off and are popping up all over the world providing a unprecedented accessibility to the joys of surfing.
In the water infrastructure industry, utilities leverage digital twins for tasks like optimizing water treatment plant processes to reduce energy and chemical costs and managing and predicting sewer overflows to prevent costly fines and protect our communities and environment. Utilities are turning to software solutions such as waterCAST Sewer to help.
Watch the short overview below to learn more about waterCAST Sewer.
Why is digital twin software important now?
The infrastructure industry has arrived at the point of convergence of technology, economics, and culture, opening the door for new solutions such as digital twin software. A closer look at these ever-present industry and market forces demonstrates the growing need for digital twin software:
- The increasing number of data points from sensors
- Availability of affordable computing resources (software, hardware, sensors, and means to capture and transmit the data)
- Growing interoperability across applications and platforms
- The rapid expansion of AI/Machine learning is rapidly growing and adding value to digital twins
- Studies suggest that digital twins can save city planners and building owners $280 billion over coming years
- A solid fit with the US government’s Build Back Better drive and $1.2trn infrastructure bill.
- Reduction of project costs and schedules by up to 30% in design, logistics, and large capital projects
- Pandemic forced our clients to accelerate steps towards digital
- Mindset to be more energy and carbon efficient
- Addressing resiliency as a stakeholder expectation
- Working smarter with less resources (retiring workforce, shrinking budgets, etc.)
For many organizations, choosing to investigate digital twin software means transitioning from survival mode to thriving as a digital-first resilient organization.
Gain an advantage with a digital twin
Organizations choosing to invest in digital solutions today such as digital twins gain an advantage. By leveraging all the data they have at their disposal and investing in digital twin technology, organizations can focus on strengthening the full lifecycle of their infrastructure assets and systems, and not just pieces of it. Much like the wave pool story above, many variables go into creating and maintaining a perfectly seamless operating system. Digital twins help identify tangible areas to improve in real-time so that organization can become digital-first and resilient enough to weather any storm.
Learn more about waterCAST Sewer, a digital-twin software solution. Schedule a free demo today!