Chapter 2

Why Use a Digital Twin?

Digital twins are used in a variety of applications like anomaly detection, asset management, and fleet management.

These common applications drive the intended use of the digital twins. In a characteristic smart connected system topology as shown below, the digital twins could be executed on the smart asset, at the edge, or on the IT/OT layers depending on the response time that the application requires.

For example, predictive maintenance generally would require making real-time or time-sensitive decisions. When you implement multiple digital twins for different applications, you can deploy each one differently into the system topology.

Digital Twin


To optimize maintenance schedules, use remaining useful life estimation (RUL).


To optimize current operations, use simulation to create future “what-if” scenarios.


Digital Twin Applications


Benefits of Using Digital Twins

Asset History

An important feature of a digital twin is that it captures the real asset’s history. Recall that the digital twin model is updated periodically to represent the real asset’s current state. Over time, these past states become the asset’s history.

The type of information included in this history might differ based on how you’re using the digital twin and what’s captured in the current state.

For example, if you're using the digital twin for fault classification, the history captured by each digital twin can be the operational data from the specific pump and its healthy and faulty state.

In the future, you can compare the operational data from one pump to the digital twin histories of other pumps to understand how they behaved under similar faults and the effect on the fleet's efficiency.

Maintenance Strategies Scenario A

Scenario A: Order parts and run the pump in a suboptimal state until they arrive.

Maintenance Strategies Scenario B

Scenario B: Spend more to expedite shipping to get the parts quickly and reduce time spent running suboptimally.

Maintenance Strategies

The ability to monitor the whole fleet using digital twins brings additional advantages in terms of planning operational events and improving maintenance strategies.

Imagine a situation in which one of the pumps is expected to fail soon. Using digital twins, you can assess how this will affect the efficiency of the fleet and what it will cost you.

Based on this analysis, you can either:

  • Scenario A: Order replacements and run your pump in a suboptimal state until you get the new parts
  • Scenario B: Pay more for shipping and get the parts immediately to schedule maintenance as soon as possible

Simulate Future Scenarios

As the digital twins help you understand the history of the assets, they also help you with future planning. You can use digital twins to simulate hundreds of future scenarios to see how factors such as weather, fleet size, or different operating conditions affect the performance.

This approach will help you manage your assets and optimize operations by informing your maintenance staff about the expected failures in advance so they can plan for future repairs and replacements.

Simulate Future Scenarios