The Impact Of The Digital Twin In Asset Lifecycle Management

The ability to be remote from an asset and still be able to monitor, maintain and manage it is not a new concept, however the necessary foundation to enable this – enterprise-wide asset intelligence – is often missing. Despite significant investment in business information systems to date, organisations continue to struggle to create accurate asset baselines and truly understand status and condition, or even if they are what, or where, they should be.

Asset data integrity deficiencies are further compounded by the challenges associated with tracking the changes that occur in assets over time as they are deployed, serviced, upgraded, rotated, replaced, recycled, re-engineered and disposed. As a result, asset data profiles are often at odds with what is happening in the real-world, compromising decision-making and exposing organisations to significant risk in terms of safety, productivity, cost and compliance.

The Rise of the Digital Twin

The advent of sophisticated asset intelligence platforms that provide a highly-accessible digital record – one that is lockstep with the real-world asset as it moves through its lifecycle – can transform these issues and give organisations greater insight into assets, at the item-level, across their operations, providing the basis for better decisions and automated action. This concept is often called a ‘digital twin’ – a digital representation and virtual record of a physical asset that is complete and remains current through-life from cradle to grave.

Unlike static representations or records spread across disparate information systems such as a CMMS or supply or finance, digital twins deliver complete, consistent and highly-current single source of truth to decision-makers. Once organisations achieve an accurate digital twin record as the central location for asset configuration and operational information, new worlds of possibilities arise.

The Impact of the Internet of Things (IoT)

The digital twin as a concept is not overly new. They are already featured across a wide range of industries such aerospace, mining, supply chain, logistics, healthcare and smart cities. NASA has been running digital simulations of spacecraft assets and processes for decades.

What is changing, and rapidly, is the fact that the technology capability is moving into the mainstream and becoming ubiquitously available and accessible – fuelled by the commoditisation of low power, low cost, long range IoT sensor technology. More and more new products have sensors built in, and legacy assets can be back fitted with smart tags to generate new insights. From there, the convergence of cloud connectivity and enterprise mobility makes it easier than ever before to collect and share real-time data about the asset as it moves through time. This data can then be used for improved and automated decisions as opposed to engineering analysis after the fact.

It is predicted that the concept of the digital twin will have a significant impact over the next 3 to 5 years and beyond. In fact, Gartner predicted in its ‘Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018’ that by 2021 up to half of large industrial companies will use digital twins in some way shape or form. Similarly ABI Research predicts that condition-based monitoring connections will grow for manufacturing 24% annually. As time goes on, a higher percentage of these connections will feed into digital twins, from about 3% in 2016 to about 54% in 2026.

Reversing The Deterioration Of Digital Asset Data Over Time

Furthermore, cloud-based collaboration tools can drive, and even automate, the creation of digital twins. All assets go through a number of processes, and can evolve into different forms, over the course of their life. For example they are issued to custodians, they are serviced by repair agents, and components are replaced and recycled into new assets and so on. A collaboration platform uses these events as opportunities for asset owners, operators, OEM suppliers and service agents to contribute to data profiles every time they interact with the asset in the real-world – continually improving data currency, and quality, through-time, as business occurs, cost effectively.

With this platform, organisations can move beyond the status quo, where data is confined to siloed engineering departments and disconnected business systems, to a model whereby real-time asset data is shared live to all stakeholders and combined with other datasets to create a complete digital replica that will improve, rather than deteriorate, with the passage of time.

What We Do

The digital twin is a good descriptor of the sorts of things we’ve been doing here at Relegen for many years. We continue to invest heavily in our assetDNA solution – a powerful asset data management platform that integrates auto-ID, IoT sensors, cloud collaboration and enterprise mobility to bridge the gap between fact and fiction, data and assets, corporate strategy and operational reality. A key differentiator of this platform is its secure item serialisation capabilities which ensure the technical accuracy of the digital asset record through-life as it passes through events, processes, and custodians. This living record, which is accessible anywhere, anytime, any device (provided the user has the appropriate permissions), enables businesses to put the real-world asset at the centre of their operation, providing a rich digital foundation and the intelligence for better decisions now and in the future.

Extending Towards Risk-Based Asset Intelligence

Another important extension of this capability is our new unified ‘risk-based asset intelligence’ suite which uses the digital asset record as a virtual data testbed to conduct rigorous, risk-based analysis on assets and control-centred what-if scenario modelling – a concept that has long been alluring for owners and managers of assets. The data produces unprecedented levels of insight and enables organisations to make superior decisions about the allocation and prioritisation of organisational resources to asset and risk activities, projects and investments.

As we’ve said in recent blogs, it’s an exciting time to be involved in this industry and makes our work even more interesting than it already was. If you would like to learn more about these capabilities, feel free to reach out to Relegen via or +61(0)2 9998 9000.