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Digital twins — precise, virtual copies of machines or systems — are revolutionizing industry

nature – Virtual models boost smart manufacturing by simulating decisions and optimization, from design to operations, explain Fei Tao and Qinglin Qi.  “Digital twins — precise, virtual copies of machines or systems — are revolutionizing industry. Driven by data collected from sensors in real time, these sophisticated computer models mirror almost every facet of a product, process or service. Many major companies already use digital twins to spot problems and increase efficiency. Half of all corporations might be using them by 2021, one analyst predicts. For instance, NASA uses digital copies to monitor the status of its spacecraft. Energy companies General Electric (GE) and Chevron use them to track the operations of wind turbines. Singapore is developing a digital copy of the entire city to monitor and improve utilities. Machine intelligence and cloud computing will boost such models’ power. There is much to be done to realize the potential of digital twins. Each model is built from scratch: there are no common methods, standards or norms. It can be difficult to aggregate data from thousands of sensors that track vibration, temperature, force, speed and power, for example. And data can be spread among many owners and be held in various formats. For example, the designers of a particular car might hold information on its materials and structure, while the manufacturers keep data on how the vehicle is produced and garages retain information on sales and maintenance….”

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