Digital Twins: The 4 types and their characteristics

Digital Twins: The 4 types and their characteristics

In one of our last blog articles, we were focusing on what a digital twin is and what it can be used for. Today we would like to go into more detail – and highlight the four different types and applications of digital twins.

In a nutshell, there are the following 4 types: 

  • Component Twins / Parts Twins
  • Asset Twins
  • System or Unit Twins
  • Process Twins

In essence, all these types of digital twins are the same – they represent an object or process virtually and help to predict key factors like the running time or foreseeable damage. What the different types differ in, however, is the area of application. Let us now go through all types to get a more precise picture of the differences.

Component Twins / Parts Twins

As the name suggests, this is the twin of a single component in the entire system. How now? Is every screw in a car virtually reproduced in order to be able to make predictions about its service life? No, of course not, these are real key components that have a direct impact on performance and functionality. A second application is consisting of components that are not quite as important but are subject to constant high or jerky influences.

Asset Twins

Asset Twins are the next higher level of digital twins. They describe how individual components work together as an entire asset – for a better understanding: A good example of this is an engine or a pump. Asset Twins can receive information from Component Twins or be a collection of Component Twins themselves. While component twins are more concerned with the stability and durability of individual parts, Asset Twins allow you to explore an entire system. You can check how and how well individual parts work together and discover potential for improvement without having to screw around with real engines or machine gearboxes. So you can virtually – and consequently real – reduce mean time between failures and mean time to repair as well as fuel consumption while increasing factors like performance.

System or Unit Twins

The system twins, also known as unit twins, work on a higher level. They combine individual Asset Twins and give you the opportunity to check how individual assets work together – comparable to Asset Twins that combine individual Component Twins. Let’s stick to our car example: The System Twin combines all assets that are necessary for propulsion and all assets that are necessary for electricity and all assets that are needed for the bodywork, etc. The System Twin is a system that can be used for all the different types of applications.

For the sake of understanding, perhaps the example of the car factory is a bit simpler: here a System Twin brings together all the units necessary for the production of a component of the finished car. System Twins are also all about improving the collaboration between individual assets – so that the end result is maximum performance with minimum wear and tear or time consumption.

Process Twins

When a System Twin represents the production units for a single part of a car, the Process Twin represents an entire production facility and provides insight into the collaboration of all units. And then factors such as timing become important. In the closed-loop of an entire process, individual units can also produce too quickly, leading to an excess of certain individual parts and thus to high storage costs or other logistical challenges. It is only at this level that the entire complexity of monitoring via digital twins becomes really clear. Because a process only becomes functional and effective when all units, assets, and components fulfill their purpose.

The different Types of Digital Twins – A Conclusion

At the end of this article it should be clear: We are talking about higher and lower levels of digital twins here, but in reality, each level is equally important for a functioning process. To uncover optimization potential and sources of error in your company, you need to switch between the individual levels – zoom in and out, so to speak. At the end of the day, a single component can be as important as the interaction of all units. As described in the pictures, it is just as important to monitor the individual screws, which can bring the machine to a standstill, as it is to monitor the entire process, and at the end there is a finished car.


Curious? Talk to us!

Tampered IoT Data – The “fake news” of the Industrial IoT

The rising amount of collected IoT data, the trend towards data-based decision-making and new data services increase the risk of being vulnerable to manipulation. Therefore, companies should implement countermeasures to prevent IoT data form being tampered and build their data services and IoT platform on a trustable foundation.

Covid-19: Behind the mask

Nothing new came forth but it would have enhanced prior knowledge if considered before.
A few weeks after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, it makes sense to draw a first conclusion of what we’ve seen and heard from industry players and we tried to summarize some of our core findings.

Alexander Sztatecsny – new COO of Tributech

Alexander Sztatecsny, who has been working in different areas of Digitalization across the value chain for most of his business life, has recently joined the team of Tributech as COO and Managing Partner and will work with the team to elevate the business to the next level.

The digital twin – an introduction

The digital twin – an introduction

Digital twins are one of the most important inventions of recent years – and yet many people still lack the knowledge about what a digital twin is, what it can do and what opportunities it opens up for a broad variety of industries. For today’s blog article, we have set ourselves the goal of changing exactly that problem.

What is a digital twin?

Let’s come to the first and probably most important question: What is a digital twin anyway? Well, the digital twin is a virtual model of a process, a product or a service. For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to this illustrated object as an “original object” in the following text. The digital twin serves as a link between the real and the virtual world. Whereby this is not 100% correct, because a digital twin can also be an image of a digital product. Furthermore, for the creation of a digital twin, it does not matter whether the product depicted already exists now or will exist only in the future.

The digital twin can use real data from sensors to virtually simulate realistic working conditions or machine positions. In this way, work processes can be analyzed in advance and sources of error avoided or wear reduced. This results, for example, in less downtime and slower wear of the machines. Such digital twins, which can map the life cycle of products, processes or services, are becoming increasingly necessary in more complex industries.

An easy example:

Let’s say you have a battery pack that you can use to charge your smartphone and other devices via a USB cable. If this battery pack has a digital twin, you can simulate in advance how often you can charge your devices with one battery charge and how long your battery pack will work with current use. The digital twin may also be able to detect errors in your use of the device that would significantly reduce its lifespan sooner or later. This should be an interesting benefit in the future, especially for insurance companies.

How does a digital twin work?

In addition to features such as a clearly assignable ID, a digital twin requires three different elements: the original object, the digital twin as a virtual object and the information that links these two. The original object has sensors that measure the most important data for optimization. This data is forwarded to a system where it is processed and evaluated. On the basis of this data, the digital twin can simulate future values and emerging problems, among other things, so that the processes and services depicted can be improved. There are two ways to feed the digital twin with data: with realistic real-time data, but also manually to bring human expertise into the calculations.

What are the benefits of a digital twin?

The digital twin can help the company in every phase of the life cycle of an object. In the first phase, which is mainly about research and the “design” of an object, a digital twin can be used to illustrate the diverse effects of different decisions. This is interesting, for example, for Formula 1 or aircraft construction, where even small changes to the outer shell can have a huge impact on aerodynamics and thus on the speed and fuel consumption of a device. After research comes production – also in this part digital twins can help to work more efficiently, with higher quality standards and higher yields. In the usage phase, availability can be optimized.
In the fourth and final phase, a topic that every company currently has to deal with in terms of corporate image and external impact comes to the fore – the recyclability of the products. Digital twins can help you to identify and implement re- and upcycling potentials. In addition, the digital twin can reveal individual weaknesses in your products, which can be eliminated and your object can be used for a longer period of time.

A brief outlook

In the coming weeks, we would like to continue and deepen our discussion about the digital twin in this blog. You will get to know the best practices as well as realistic application possibilities for your company. We will also show you how we, the team of Tributech, can enhance your digital twins to further improve your processes. Stay tuned.


Curious? Talk to us!

Tampered IoT Data – The “fake news” of the Industrial IoT

The rising amount of collected IoT data, the trend towards data-based decision-making and new data services increase the risk of being vulnerable to manipulation. Therefore, companies should implement countermeasures to prevent IoT data form being tampered and build their data services and IoT platform on a trustable foundation.

Covid-19: Behind the mask

Nothing new came forth but it would have enhanced prior knowledge if considered before.
A few weeks after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, it makes sense to draw a first conclusion of what we’ve seen and heard from industry players and we tried to summarize some of our core findings.

Alexander Sztatecsny – new COO of Tributech

Alexander Sztatecsny, who has been working in different areas of Digitalization across the value chain for most of his business life, has recently joined the team of Tributech as COO and Managing Partner and will work with the team to elevate the business to the next level.