Based on the research results, about 2/3 of manufacturers view digital twins as important or critical to their business strategy. A similar level of priority is observed in AEC companies. In the previous live webinars organized by AMC Bridge, the usefulness of digital twins has been discussed, and the plethora of ways they can be deployed and utilized has been established. During the latest discussion held in April, the panel explored the role of simulation technology in the digital twin.

The AMC Bridge executive series of expert panel discussions have become a highly-anticipated business event to get the freshest industry insights and discover real-life experiences of industry experts that can be useful for business growth. This time, the following panelists were assembled to discuss the essential role of various simulation technologies in the accurate modeling of products, systems, and processes: David Heiny, Co-Founder and CEO of SimScale, David Weir-McCall, Industry Marketing Manager – Architecture of Epic Games, Eveart Foster, Director of Technology Adoption of BuiltWorlds, Igal Kaptsan, General Manager Software of GE Additive, Igor Tsinman, Co-Founder and President of AMC Bridge, Qinghui Yuan, Director Modeling and Data Science of Donaldson. By tradition, the webinar was moderated by Jim Brown, Founder and President of Tech-Clarity.

The highlights below provide the key points of the discussion and an overview of the poll results. The full recording of the event is available at the following link.

Why is the digital twin so important to business performance?

It is clear that businesses can reap a great deal of benefits from the successful implementation of digital twins. Those benefits include improved product development processes, greater insight into the performance of systems or buildings, comparisons of “as-designed” versus “as-built” conditions of a product or building, and so many more.

AMC Bridge President Igor Tsinman noted that “what if scenarios are becoming more and more important” to understand how a product or system will perform and to provide the ability to anticipate and address issues prior to them becoming critical. To support the idea, Igal Kaptsan, General Manager Software of GE Additive, added that “the volume of data and the dependencies among the various types of data and their sources are too large” to handle it manually. Therefore, the use of digital twins to help manage, organize, and utilize the data and their sources is one of the key benefits for businesses.

Other panel members mentioned that digital twins are also helpful in understanding and predicting the environmental and governance issues that might impact a design or building. Reducing repair costs by utilizing digital twins to improve troubleshooting, monitoring, and diagnostic capabilities offers tangible financial benefits to the business.

Are digital twins valuable without simulation?

The experts have found that there are multiple ways to achieve value from the digital twin that start with simply modeling a physical asset but extend well beyond that. Including simulation as part of a digital twin plays an important role in predicting the performance and reliability of a product or system. The simulation also impacts many other aspects of the life cycle of a product or system, such as analyzing energy efficiency, buildability, or manufacturability, predicting the long-term cost of ownership, and many more. Consequently, it raises the key question: “Are digital twins valuable independent of simulation?”

The short answer echoed by all of the panelists was: “Of course!” David Weir-McCall from Epic Games acknowledged that “there is a lot of value where simulation isn’t required – areas such as capturing and storing historical and current data, managing operational performance, and real-time monitoring of systems” are all aspects of a product life cycle that benefit from the use of digital twins, but do not require simulation. He added: “Historical data can be used to inform future design decisions.”

Donaldson’s Director of Modeling and Data Science Qinghui Yuan offered that combining the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning with data science can extract substantial value from historical data captured by digital twins.

In the construction world, Eveart Foster, Director of Technology Adoption of Builtworlds, suggested that data captured and included in a digital twin can be used as a benchmarking tool illustrating the progress of a job, assisting in error avoidance and the prevention of the rework such errors cause.

With so many avenues to pursue, it is clear that digital twins, with or without simulation, are included to provide a significant business value. Igor Tsinman said: “Overall, the idea of a digital twin is more like a journey. Simulation can be one step of that journey—but there are many steps”. The first thing to establish when deploying a digital twin is the business objective of that digital twin. “In a way, we are all using digital twins, but we don’t realize it,” emphasized Igal Kaptsan. “We have systems such as smart homes and devices that we can control from anywhere!”

How to gain more value from digital twins using simulation?

Using simulation in conjunction with a digital twin can help improve innovation in ways like validating design decisions, saving time in development through better validation, and improving products through optimization. But they can also help in the operational phases of products, equipment, systems, buildings, or other assets.

Where do you see companies looking to extend a digital twin value with simulation?

Igal Kaptsan noted that from a 3D printing point of view, it is not possible to complete any binder jet printing projects without simulation. This is because the scaling and sintering processes require simulation to accurately print a model, thus improving results and reducing the need for reprinting.

Eveart Foster supported the notion that simulation in a digital twin can be incredibly beneficial in the building construction industry. Concepts such as energy modeling from a 3D BIM model to simulate the amount of energy required for a building will perform for 10, 20, 30 years or more. Additionally, being able to analyze scan and surface data can provide a valuable insight into the volumetric requirements of materials, such as concrete, required to accomplish a specific part of the building process.

Simscale’s David Heiney cited an interesting use case for simulation in a digital twin on a “city scale.” Simulating the impact of wind conditions on a city can significantly improve a city’s ability to predict and prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes. Combining historical data with the live data collected by metrology equipment located throughout a city enables the accurate modeling of various conditions and helps plan for and even avoid dramatic impacts of natural disasters.

The panelists agreed that the value of digital twins is well established, and the role simulation can play in increasing that value is significant. It is clear that when a company decides to implement digital twins, they must first establish their business objectives and then must determine how to proceed.

What are the first steps that most companies need to focus on to get more value out of digital twins with simulation?

Keeping in mind that the deployment of digital twins is like a journey, Igor Tsinman noted that initially, digital twins can be “a digital copy of a physical object” and suggested that one essential step is to collect as much data about and from the product, building, or system as possible. Without data, historical and live, digital twins may lack in value, and simulation will not be helpful. Igor suggested that starting small and carefully planning the process is prudent.

Qinghui Yuan suggested that companies might consider hybridizing data and simulation and that the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning early on in the process will yield stronger value in the long run.

What does the poll say?

When prompted to share why digital twins were important in their organizations, audience members indicated a fairly even split of 33% between the desire to drive continuous improvement initiatives in their company and improving their designs and design-related decision making. Another 25% of participants noted that monitoring and improving product, system or building performance was the most important benefit for their company. Communicating designs was clearly not as important to those companies to deploy digital twins as these other benefits.

For more information on how AMC Bridge enables companies in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries to implement and leverage digital twins, visit our website; in particular, check out the News, Case Studies, and Labs sections.

To keep track of similar webinars, conferences, and meet-ups, please follow our events calendar.

About AMC Bridge

With 20+ years of experience and unmatched industry expertise, AMC Bridge enables digital transformation for clients in the engineering, manufacturing, and AEC industries. We do it by creating custom software solutions that eliminate data silos, connect complex applications, unlock and promote internal innovation, and democratize cutting-edge technologies.

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