Is there a need for Digital Triplets? Quadruplets? Siblings even?

How can we adapt to a world that was, that is, and will be? How can we adapt to a future that is unknown? Can we make it known by utilizing the concept of Digital Twins, and Beyond? Can we simulate the future, having done thousands of AI-driven simulations, and bring the solutions back to the now, knowing what the future will look like?

Knowing that the future is already here, albeit unevenly distributed. I have made it my mission to find the tools and methods that can distribute the future to the ones that want it the most. Digital Twins are quite in the hype for now so thought I could stir up some noise even more with Digital Triplets. What started off as a joke, soon became reality in a couple of conversations with partners and vendors last week. I talked to legends in the Power industry having written articles about Triplets a year ago exactly. It came up in discussions with industrial automation professionals in regard to simulation capabilities. In a webinar last week, I mentioned 6G, 7G, or 8G and Digital Triplets just to make a point that we need to talk more about the jobs to be done, instead of the buzzword bingo right now.

The need to adapt to existing ways of working was also discussed in a webinar [i] for Chalmers University and The Digital Twin City Centre, about Revenue Models and Business Models. The importance of understanding the concept, the situation, and the unique problems that should be solved cannot be emphasized enough, where existing companies are indeed built to die[ii].

Finding inspiration is not the challenge. That is just a google away.

But, finding what problems to solve, and how to solve them in their unique setting with culture, processes, people, existing systems, and political agendas can only be discovered by digging into the reality that exists. It is known that Digital Twins can accelerate digital transformation efforts. But a lot of the real use cases are yet to be discovered at scale. But what are the main parts that Digital Twins are made up of?

“The Digital twin is made up of three parts: physical entities in the real world, virtual models of those entities, and the data that connects the two worlds.” - CIO Applications

According to the article above that was shared on Linkedin [iii], CIO applications state that a Digital Twin is made up of a virtual model of what’s being “twinned” and the data that connects them. What if there are hundreds of assets, spanning factories, weather, processes, people, and systems in a supply chain? And what about the context? What about the need for visualizations? And what about the need for simulations to be made? Maybe all these things are included and more, because Digital Twins can bring real-time data together with the static and are gaining ground where PLM tools falter. The Digital Twin description above feels a bit thin.

So maybe there was some truth to Digital Triplets after all? Or should all of the above just happen within the Digital Twin itself? Or through standardized APIs where others can interact with the Digital Twin?

Out from a proprietary past and into an open, interoperable future

In one of the discussions, with one of the largest multinational power companies in Europe, we talked about the need for an “operational twin” AND a “simulation/sandbox twin”. They had tried to create a Digital Twin of one of their gas-turbine driven powerplants, but saw these challenges below (and more):

  • Problems with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) sending data to “a” cloud halfway around the world.
  • Offered AI solutions being black-box entities.
  • Impossible to continue to optimize the algorithms and AI solution themselves
  • The proposed solutions were not built on open source, nor interoperable enough.
  • The solutions weren’t able to run on the edge/on-prem, behind firewalls.
  • All the solutions were based on manual ways of working, in need of experts. Where they were after more automated ways of working.
  • A need for AR/VR having seen Microsoft Mesh “Here can be everywhere” for Remote maintenance and training.
  • All of the solutions were unable to provide a copy-paste function to other power-plants, re-using intelligence without having to re-invent the wheel at every turn.

The jobs to be done here seem to be to go from where they are today, out from a proprietary past, and into an interoperable and scalable future. And having the ability to augment, and possibly re-invent existing ways of working in a transparent way.

All the challenges above can be solved in various ways that exist right now. Where the technologies are finally here to make the future happen. But what was even more interesting was their rhetoric around Digital Twins. One of the things that they were after was Digital Representations of the physical world which they called the operational Digital Twin, which should always mirror the Real-World.

= Digital Twins.

Which I found to be very similar to what the article from CIO applications defined as Digital Twins. But, what they were after even more was a sandbox environment and the ability to run simulations on top of the Digital Twin to feed data back to the Digital Twin. This to change their reality without waiting for actual events to happen in the real world.

= Digital Triplets?

“The Digital twin is made up of three parts: physical entities in the real world, virtual models of those entities, and the data that connects the two worlds.”

Reading the description again, I cannot help but think if there is a need for Digital Triplets? Or is it just a lack of understanding thus far, as to what capabilities Digital Twins have? And the road towards Triplets, will lead to siblings, cousins, and go beyond that of Triplets and Quadruplets and turn into a digital slippery slope?

  • Is there a need to exemplify the different capabilities Digital Twins can have in a simple way? Does it exist already?
  • Is there any interest in doing something like the one I did for Building automation a couple of years ago in addition to the Triplet sketch in the beginning?
  • Should the Digital Twin encompass the ability to run simulations on its own, or should 3rd party applications be able to work with the Digital Twin in a standardized interoperable way?
  • Should the Digital Twin be able to work with existing systems, and bring their native capabilities together in order to adapt to the world?
  • Or should the Digital Twin platform on its own have all the capabilities necessary to bring everything together forever?
  • Do Digital Twins start to exist when they have the capabilities to work with model ingestion, and virtual sensors, and are something else entirely up until that point?

Do we need to wait for Digital Twin standards? Or should we get going with Digital Twin approaches that are interoperable, built on open source, and can work with any standard? How can we help companies where they are today reach where they need to be tomorrow and into the future?

This sketch was made a couple of years ago for the Building Automation side of things. Maybe there’s a need to create a similar one for “Digital Twins — The past, the present, and the future”?

It has helped me to define the box, as well as think outside the box of Building Automation, knowing what the healthcare industry is doing in bringing drugs to market. And what challenges Digital Twins are solving for companies in the Oil & Gas industry, Construction, Mobility, and Smart Cities, and what Formula 1 does at scale. The future is here. There is no doubt about it.

But is also more unevenly distributed than I previously thought. The Automotive industry has a lot of challenges on its own and some parts of the Construction industry are further along when it comes to data management than bringing drugs to market for Big Pharma. It does not seem like it is meek that shall inherit the earth. It seems like it is the ones with speed, focusing on the Rate of Innovation and not solely staring at Return on Investment. Doing things right is becoming easier and easier, but are companies doing the right things? Is that where Digital Twins and Triplets could help?

All I know is that Digital Twins/Triplets are some of the best tools out there right now, in bringing people and systems together like nothing before it. The visualization aspects are much more important than what people seem to think, and the ones that get to a digital operating model and business model will soon find themselves leaders of the pack. Knowing that it’s the fast that eats the slow.

Distributing Future ways of working, today.

Because that is the thing. The future is coming at us fast. Adapting to the future, based on the unique needs of companies where they are today, and where they need to be tomorrow is what is needed. It is not about stepping out of the comfort zone for people. It never was. It is about stepping into the comfort zone, describe what that is, in a way that people, as well as systems, can understand at scale. It is all about bringing people and systems together, utilizing the power of experts in various areas to innovate with the world that exists today. We cannot keep continuing to expect that people need to change when they do not want to.

Define the jobs to be done, stay in the comfort zone. And then invite people to innovate with the world people know best. Easy right?

And if you or someone you know need help with questions regarding strategy, innovation, and figuring out how modern technologies can help you where you are today. Look no further. WINNIIO will always be by your side. Just reach out to me, Nicolas Waern, on LinkedIn or check out my Podcast Beyond Buildings if you need any assistance.

Sincerely,
Nicolas Waern

ceo@winniio.io

“The future is already here, just unevenly distributed. And it’s my job to distribute future ways of working to the ones that want it the most today”.

Nicolas Waern is the CEO, Strategy & Innovation Leader, and a Digital Twin Evangelist at the consulting firm WINNIIO. He is a thought leader around Digitalization and Digital Twins, regarding Smart Buildings, Smart Cities, and future-ready strategies. And a firm believer that we have all the ingredients to make the world a better place for everyone.

Nicolas is working with leaders in several industries to understand how they can succeed in the age of AI. Assisting them in creating their future, by predicting what the world will do in a week, a month, a year from now. He does this through a Digitalization- Demand approach for anyone that needs to change before they have to.

Nicolas is also Podcast Creator & Newsletter Editor for The Beyond Buildings Podcast
Thought Leader regarding Smart Buildings & Building Automation for AutomatedBuildings
Speaker and Influencer Event Streaming Platforms as the Holy Grail for Industry 4.0 Applications
Subject Matter Expert Real Estate Digitalization Proptech Sweden — Digitalization Expert
And an active Member of Digital Twin working groups Digital Twin Consortium & Chalmers — Digital Twin City Centre

Originally published on April 2021 at https://automatedbuildings.com.

It took me 37 years to create an approach to solve all the challenges in the world. Now I’ll spend the rest of my life to get it done. Are you with me?