Azure Digital Twins

What is a Digital Twin?

Digital Twins are part of 4th industrial revolution, helping us to deliver Industry 4.0.  This is a vision of connected cyber physical systems transforming the world around us as part of the data revolution.

A digital twin is a digital replica or model of something existing in the physical world.  It combines Internet of Things, spatial modelling, cloud computing and advanced analytics to deliver a contextually aware digital model, and to help us along the path to real-time prescriptive analytics and actions.

Azure Digital Twins is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology delivered through Microsoft’s Azure public cloud.

What are the benefits?

Azure Digital Twins allows us to model the relationships between people, places and devices through a spatial intelligence graph.  It allows us to run custom functions against incoming device data to provide automated actions based upon the data received, all whilst being contextually and spatially aware.  It simplifies the development process of complex models and delivers new, more mature functionality to traditional IoT solutions.  It harnesses the power of the cloud to scale and deliver a multi-tenant solution and allows vertical integration to incorporate other technology solutions like mixed reality and horizontal integration to join multiple IoT solutions together.

Types of Digital Twin

Three types of digital twin can been identified;

  1. Product Digital Twin.  This is the simplest form, normally based on a single device with multiple sensors.  It is used to understand and measure product performance e.g. CNC Machine, Conference Room.
  2. Process Digital Twin.  This can be thought of as a a joining of product twins together to form a process twin.  It consists of multiple objects, devices and sensors.  An example would be a production line or a building containing multiple rooms.
  3. Predictive Digital Twin.  This is a type of digital twin used for simulation and what-if analysis.  Examples include predictive maintenance, object failure simulation, room availability or real-time building evacuation procedures.

Digital Twin Components

Azure Digital Twins leverages the Azure IOT reference architecture to fuse spaces, people, devices and sensors into a spatial graph and object model.  The Digital Twin object model includes;

  • Spaces – Ontologies/Spatial Graph of the system being modelled
  • Devices & Sensors – IoT devices and sensors sending data
  • Users – People that interact with the model
  • Matchers – Condition matching rules that determine events from the device data
  • User Defined Functions – these determine the data processing and event generation
  • Roles & Role Assignments – sets of permissions for users and there associations with objects in the model
  • Endpoints – the locations where telemetry and events can be routed

Use cases

Popular use cases for Digital Twins technology include;

  • Smart Buildings
  • Energy Management
  • Integrated Transportation
  • Automated Manufacturing

What are the costs?

Azure Digital Twins is a consumption based service.  At the time of writing, there are two factors that contribute to the cost of the service;

  1. Per node (each object connected to the graph)
  2. Per message (API calls to the Azure Digital Twins APIs, incoming (ingress) messages sent to device and sensor nodes in Azure Digital Twins or messages sent from Azure Digital Twins (egress) to other systems)

Would you like to know more?

Would you like to know more, or understand how a Digital Twin can be developed within your own organisation?  Contact us on the link below.

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