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Digital Twins and IoT for Robotics

February 28, 2022

Digital twins are virtual representations of physical products and processes. They help replicate the normal working of the physical environment, facilitative predictive analysis, and maintenance.

Digital twins have several applications, including decision-making in firms, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and teleoperation.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is essential in the revival of digital twins. It connects devices and machines and shares data with their digital twins.

The collaboration of digital twins and IoT is inevitable in the long-term success of companies. This is especially true for those venturing into digital technologies like robotics.

This article explains the use of digital twins in predictive analytics and teleoperation.

In addition, it explores how a combination of digital twins and IoT technologies can enhance robotic operations and help in cost reductions.

What is predictive analytics?

Predictive analytics is a data analytics category focusing on making predictions about future outcomes.

It relies on historical data, machine learning, statistical modeling, and other analytics techniques to provide accurate predictions.

Predictive analytics helps organizations make decisions that align with their growth and development goals.

Businesses deal with big data every day. The data can be complex to sort out, evaluate, and make accurate corporate decisions at any given time.

Fortunately, predictive analytics enables such organizations to identify and exploit patterns from large chunks of data, as well as to detect risks and opportunities.

Firms can then design models to utilize these found relationships to achieve business objectives.

Importance of digital twins in predictive analytics

Digital twin technology serves a similar function to predictive analytics. It is a virtual model that replicates the physical components and processes of the real world.

Companies use digital twins to make predictions about their industrial systems and devices.

Such companies can use digital twins to determine the events and conditions that they might have to deal with in the future.

The capabilities of digital twins make their use in predictive analytics a no-brainer.

The features support data digitization and its subsequent representation in predictive analytics models.

In short, digital twins help predictive analytics bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds.

The IoT sensors of a digital twin system generate big data in real-time. Businesses can analyze this data proactively to anticipate future problems in the system.

This is a crucial factor in a company’s predictive analytics. It reduces unplanned downtime due to unexpected errors.

Digital twin systems allow companies to accurately calculate maintenance costs and thus, plan how to lower them. Firms can also improve the efficiency of their production chains.

Besides, digital twin tech enhances the financial decision-making process for business firms.

The technology enables firms to virtually represent physical objects and integrate their financial data.

For instance, they can predict material and labor costs to complete various projects. The digital twins’ capability helps businesses to make better decisions which increases their cost-effectiveness.

How IoT and digital twins are enhancing teleoperation

Teleoperation refers to the technology of controlling machines or equipment remotely.

It is a tech concept that companies are increasingly turning to as they adapt to changing times.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to businesses that it is necessary to offer remote services.

Companies have been implementing telerobotics, telehealth, and other forms of teleoperations since they started to adopt remote operations.

IoT and teleoperations

IoT interconnects devices on a network, enabling them to communicate through the internet.

It constitutes three layers: the perception layer, network layer, and application layer.

IoT makes teleoperations a possibility and is, therefore, critical to establishing teleoperations.

Teleoperations require machines and devices to be interconnected via a network to form a functional unit.

IoT facilitates this interconnection which facilitates the remote operation of machines. Firms can use wireless communications and low-cost sensors and link them to computing and storage devices through IoT.

For example, in telehealth, IoT connects smartwatches to a health database using network sensors to collect patient information.

Digital twins and teleoperations

Digital twinning enhances the remote control of physical assets with virtual objects.

Organizations can monitor and simulate various functions and then virtually relay instructions to machines. This capability makes digital twins a vital tool in teleoperation.

Besides, digital twins enhance teleoperations indirectly due to their role in facilitating IoT processes.

Advanced IoT systems utilize digital twinning to support teleoperations. Incorporating digital twinning is essential as companies move towards teleoperations to match the current market and technological trends.

How robotics benefit from digital twins and IoT implementation

Digital twins implementation

As companies implement digital twin technology, there are numerous benefits to robotics.

Digital twins facilitate faster installations and easier setups. This has increased adoption rates within industrial settings.

Digital twins are also vital in robotic manipulation. They help virtualize hardware motion from raw material to the final product.

Therefore, they facilitate the integration of various modifications in robotics. This ensures that an organization achieves the intended results.

IoT implementation

Just like digital twins, IoT implementation is quite essential to robotics. The objective of IoT is to minimize human involvement in networks instead of focusing on connecting devices over the internet.

Collaboration between IoT and robotics leads to the formation of the Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT). IoRT reduces the challenges of robotics.

Most robots face the challenge of limited functions, such as restricted ranges of motion. They also focus on interacting with the physical world rather than engaging with digital systems.

These challenges can hinder the advancement of robotics to match modern trends. The intervention of IoRT is crucial in resolving such challenges.

It brings robotics closer to digitization. For instance, robots need the Internet of Things to attain intelligence and collaborative thinking.

Besides, IoRT allows robotics to undertake intelligent computations by using both cloud computing and edge computing.

Using IoT and digital twins to reduce costs

today, IoT and digital twins have several applications. Firstly, they help organizations make better decisions as they become more aware of their corporate challenges.

Organizations often use these technologies for predictive analytics. As a result, they can anticipate future disruptions that could impact their business functions.

Companies can also utilize these systems to monitor their real-time operations to maximize their efficiency. The two technologies can reduce costs for firms in various industries, including:

  • Transportation.
  • Oil and gas.
  • Healthcare.
  • Supply chain.

Let’s discuss how digital twins and IoT contribute to cost reductions for these industries.

Transportation

In transportation, digital twins have helped optimize costs in significant ways. For instance, digital twin tech improves the efficiency of trains by making predictable mechanical repairs.

In passenger vehicles, this technology enhances the security maintenance of passenger doors. According to Rolling Stock, a company that offers rail transport services saved 10% in costs by applying this technology.

Oil and gas

Companies in the oil and gas industry have turned to digital twins to reduce costs. The technology enables these firms to analyze their pipelines and processing facilities.

Digital twins also assist to forecast events such as potential oil leaks. As a result, companies in this industry can make the required adjustments to prevent losses.

The forecasting capabilities that digital twins provide to companies in the oil and gas industry save them large amounts of money.

Healthcare

Digital twin technology is gradually been accepted in the healthcare sector. The technology helps hospitals to monitor patients for potential life-threatening risks.

Digital twin technology can detect a patient’s condition early before the illness advances to later stages that would, otherwise, be expensive to treat.

Supply chain

Businesses have been investing in IoT to bolster the efficiency of their supply chains.

IoT interlinks assets, enhancing the ability to monitor the location and condition of high-value assets.

Organizations have established networks using IoT that have interconnected all their assets. They also use sensors that relay these assets to the company’s computing system.

Logistics companies can, thus, monitor the movement of their vehicles and products. Besides, they can identify deviations that could signal risks like theft.

The sensors can warn when asset movement changes based on speed variation and direction change. These factors are crucial for companies as they seek to promote the safety of their products.

In addition, IoT ensures that the recovery process for lost assets is fast and efficient.

Conclusion

Digital twins and the Internet of Things have made company operations easier, more efficient, and effective.

Digital twins technology gives a virtual blueprint of a firm’s physical components and processes.

It enables organizations to predict future events and trends. Digital twins enhance better decision-making in an organization.

IoT is crucial in connecting devices in a network, which enhances teleoperations. This technology has enabled organizations to achieve remote working.

A notable significance of digital twins and IoT is the reduction of operating costs in business entities.

Besides, digital twins enhance the ability to monitor supply chains and other activities in companies.

For instance, the two technologies are crucial in the implementation of telehealth.

Further reading


Peer Review Contributions by: Onesmus Mbaabu