What are IoT digital twins?

An IoT digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity, such as a device or a manufacturing production process. The digital twin, a real-time virtual model of an asset or system, uses data from connected IoT sensors to create a digital representation. A digital twin allows you to monitor devices, assets or processes in real time from anywhere. Digital twins are used for a variety of purposes, such as analyzing performance, monitoring for problems or running tests before implementation. The insights derived from an IoT digital twin allows users to react quickly to improve operational efficiency, production quality, customer satisfaction and more. 

An IoT digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity—in this case, a robotic system used in manufacturing.

Types of digital twins

Component twins  

A component twin, the most basic unit of a digital twin, is a digital representation of a specific component, or part, of an asset. Component twins allow you to monitor the efficiency of the specific part and how the part will react under various scenarios.    

Asset twins  

Asset twins are digital replicas of two or more components that visualize how the individual components work together. By monitoring asset twins, you can find ways to improve its performance on a granular level.     

Process twins  

Process twins are digital representations of your operational processes, production steps and workflows. Process twins allow you to derive analytics-driven insights on inputs and outputs, efficiencies, delays and more.     

System twins  

A system twin provides a visual of a collection of different assets, processes and their interactions. Offering insight into the intricacies of your system, a system twin allows you to design, manage and visualize multiple digital twins of complex assets and asset hierarchies with ease. 

Learn about modernizing your business model with IoT

Digital twin use cases

Digital twins are used in a variety of industries and scenarios to increase process efficiencies, reduce downtime and improve outcomes. Using IoT data, a digital twin can be created to represent anything from a complex piece of equipment, such as a wind turbine, to a process, such as the activity of customers in a brick-and-mortar shop. These models can offer each enterprise the specific insight that it needs to succeed.  

Digital twins in manufacturing 

Digital twins can be created to represent entire manufacturing processes. This is valuable on a tactical level: manufacturers can monitor the conditions of every step in the process to understand equipment performance, see how customers are using products, and leverage analytics-driven insights to drive quality improvements while reducing cost.  

Digital twins are also valuable at the strategic level. Manufacturers offering smart connected products can deliver new innovative solutions: remote monitoring, smart field services and performance management, among others. IoT connected products enables equipment manufacturers to offer customers new value-adding digital services, create loyalty through an improved customer experience.  

Digital twins in oil & gas 

Digital twins are critical in an asset- and operations-intensive industry such as oil and gas because they offer a real-time view of many process variables, including equipment in the field and personnel operating machinery.  

For example, pump jacks extract crude oil from a well when there is not enough pressure to force it to the surface. Users can create a model of a pump jack, along with the relevant KPIs for its performance, and simulate various scenarios to compare against real-time data. Users can then use the data to find possible pump jack problems and plan predictive maintenance

Digital twins in sustainable power 

Digital twins, which rely heavily on real-time data, can represent weather sensors, solar panels, wind turbines, battery management systems, grid systems and other remote assets to provide operators with the information that can make and keep their networks stable and equipment running smoothly.   

Digital twins in healthcare 

Digital twin technology allows healthcare providers to create a representation of a patient’s body and medical history. In turn, providers are able to make better informed decisions regarding treatments with the ability to run tests on the digital twin.  

Digital twins in retail 

Retailers can use IoT digital twins to analyze consumer behavior to deliver a better shopping experience. For example, by using real-time data derived from IoT sensors inside the store, retailers can create and monitor a digital representation of store traffic. This insight, which may show customer routes, frequent stopping points and overlooked isles, helps retailers determine customer behavior.   

Digital twins for sustainability 

Digital twins are updated with sensor data that can include power output, energy usage, temperature, and maintenance needs, among others. This provides new opportunities for operators to make their physical equipment as efficient as possible. Use digital twins to run simulations, study performance issues and generate possible improvements before applying these optimizations to physical equipment. 

Customer Story
Digital twins in action: staying connected to complex, remote equipment

The business benefits of digital twins

Digital Twins in IoT
Manage at scale 

Even if you have hundreds of assets, each equipped with many different types of sensors, digital twins help you manage them remotely from a single dashboard. Use insights to monitor their condition and prevent downtime. And with the right platform, you’ll be able to design, manage and visualize digital twins of complex assets and asset hierarchies.   

Manage remotely  

By creating digital twins, you can see and interact with remote devices as needed. Access key information, alarms and critical errors with remote monitoring. Take action and conduct remote audits, configuration and software/firmware updates and installations with ease—all remotely.    

Simulate for success  

With digital twins representing your assets, you’ll have the opportunity to perform simulation dry runs to maximize asset value, such as improving operational and capital spending tradeoffs. Analyze all the data and systems that are involved in implementing any new ideas before they go live.    

Predict and perform   

Real-time information and insights into your physical systems allows you to monitor and optimize how your equipment or process runs. This not only informs you when issues arise, but it allows you to take immediate action if a problem were to occur, preventing downtime and potential damage.   

Reduce downtime   

Monitor equipment key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify trends to prevent problems before they start. Issues such as anomalous vibration, temperature or power draw can indicate problems with machines before they fail outright.  

Reduce maintenance costs 

Deploy remote management to catch issues before they cause problems, and identify the required maintenance before problems spread. Scale your digital twin solutions to your entire fleet of equipment and see how issues in one part of the production process can affect machines responsible for later steps.  

Optimize utilization 

Utilization is the amount of time a piece of equipment, machinery, or asset is used. Digital twin data makes it easier to identify issues related to machine availability, performance and output quality. Operators also gain real-time visibility into machine location, settings and environmental factors that may affect performance. Simulations can help troubleshoot and prevent issues that affect utilization rates.  

Improve quality 

Use digital twin data to monitor quality-related equipment KPIs and identify trends that can lead to products being out of spec. 

Get started with digital twins | Cumulocity IoT platform

We know IoT projects can be complicated. That's why the Cumulocity IoT platform removes technical complexity from IoT projects, enabling business leaders to focus on true business outcomes.   

With Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT platform, you can build an IoT digital twin for any purpose. And there's no limit to the devices or systems you can connect.   

Cumulocity IoT does more than just making it easy for you to create digital twins. The Cumulocity IoT platform makes it easy to connect all of your IoT assets, manage your devices at scale, integrate IoT data in your services, processes and systems, and use that data in self-service analytics to make decisions in real-time—ensuring you get the absolute most out of your assets.   

As a leading self-service IoT platform, top rated by independent analysts with fast ROI, the Cumulocity IoT platform is a truly rapid self-service approach on a resilient, reliable, and scalable platform you can trust.  

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