WHAT IS IT?
Machinery was originally controlled by purely mechanical means, just like the cam shaft that controls the inlet and exhaust valves in an internal combustion engine. Next came electronic controls, which were very quickly digitised, with control being handed over to the software inside a computer. If such systems are networked using the IoT, for example, then the results are cyber-physical systems. The Digital Twin is part of such a system. It transfers information about the physical components to the digital world.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Cyber-physical systems are able to control themselves, for example in Industry 4.0 systems that use flexible manufacturing systems to produce different products. A smart grid, such as an electricity network, which a power station controls autonomously according to demand and the availability of renewable energy, is another example of a cyber-physical system.
WHAT ARE ITS BENEFITS?
The digital and physical worlds are becoming ever more tightly bound together. The biggest obstacle standing in the way of this development are the physical manifestations of the systems, as they have to be represented in the virtual world before they can be integrated. Digital descriptions of these systems that are as comprehensive as possible and cover geometry, material, behaviour, information, etc. – in other words digital twins – provide the solution to this challenge.