Digital Twins vs. Digital Threads: Understanding Two Complementary Ways to Replicate Assets Digitally

5:01 pm
June 29, 2023

Summary: As digital transformation gains momentum in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, two concepts, digital twins and digital threads, have become increasingly popular. While both involve digital representations of physical objects, they serve different purposes and offer unique advantages. This article explores the differences between digital twins and digital threads, along with their potential uses and benefits.

What are Digital Twins?

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical object or system that incorporates design and operational data. It includes information on the geometry, performance, and behavior models of the physical object. Digital twins are used to simulate the real-time behavior of equipment, allowing engineers and operators to monitor performance and identify issues. They leverage technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, machine learning, and simulation software to collect accurate data and generate models. Digital twins enable predictive maintenance, simulate system changes, and optimize processes.

What is a Digital Thread?

A digital thread is a digital representation of a product’s lifecycle, from design to maintenance and beyond. It provides a seamless flow of data that connects all stages of the lifecycle, enabling efficient collaboration and decision-making. Digital threads utilize technologies like computer-aided design (CAD) software, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, and IoT sensors to collect and share data across workflows. They optimize traceability and ensure stakeholders have access to the same information throughout the production process.

Distinguishing Digital Twins from Digital Threads

Digital twins and digital threads both use virtual representations of real-world assets and processes, but they have distinct capabilities.

Scale:

Digital twins are scalable within a specific production environment, while digital threads are limitlessly scalable and can connect to other enterprise systems.

Data Centralization:

Digital twins centralize data from a single asset, while digital threads centralize data across departments and production silos, ensuring consistent and easily accessible information.

Benefits of Digital Twins and Digital Threads

Both digital twins and digital threads offer benefits to organizations, depending on their needs.

Digital twins allow manufacturers to:

  • Monitor equipment in real time
  • Conduct proactive risk assessments and troubleshooting
  • Accelerate innovation using digital models

Digital threads help manufacturers to:

  • Facilitate a continuous, synchronized data flow
  • Increase interdepartmental collaboration
  • Optimize connectivity between manufacturing and engineering processes
  • Streamline product development and reduce production time
  • Ensure regulatory compliance throughout the product lifecycle

Leverage IBM Maximo Application Suite for Digital Transformation

Companies seeking to embark on or accelerate their digital transformation can benefit from tools like IBM Maximo. IBM Maximo is an enterprise asset management system that optimizes asset performance and streamlines operations. With integrated AI-powered capabilities and comprehensive CMMS functionality, IBM Maximo enables advanced data analytics and informed decision-making.

By leveraging IBM Maximo, organizations can gain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving manufacturing marketplace by integrating it with existing ERP systems or MES.

Book a live demo with an IBM expert to find out how IBM Maximo can help drive your digital transformation.

FAQs

1. Can a digital twin simulate an entire digital environment?

A digital twin can simulate an entire digital environment by connecting with other digital twins, but its primary strength lies in evaluating specific production environments.

2. Which technology is more suitable for operations with data gathered from various departments, devices, systems, and processes?

Digital thread technology is more suitable for operations with data gathered from multiple sources as it can connect to various enterprise systems, including digital twins.

3. How do digital threads ensure consistent and accurate data flow between departments?

Digital threads automate data transmission between departments and workflows, eliminating the need for manual information transfer. This automation ensures consistent and accurate data flow.

4. What benefits do digital twins offer in terms of product development?

Digital twins accelerate innovation by enabling manufacturers to use digital models and digital mirroring, facilitating faster product development.

5. How does using IBM Maximo for digital transformation help manufacturers?

IBM Maximo optimizes asset performance, streamlines operations, enables advanced data analytics, and supports informed decision-making, giving manufacturers a competitive edge in the market.


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