MT Magazine January/February 2024



Efficient Evolution BY TIM SHINBARA & CHRISTIAN CAVALLO (CONTRIBUTING WRITER) CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER April 13, 1970, 9:07 a.m. The crew of Apollo 13 hears “bang-whump-shudder” and then a chorus of alarms. An explosion in the oxygen tanks critically damages the main engine. Over 200,000 miles away, NASA Mission Control in Houston scrambles to diagnose and fix a problem that neither they nor the crew can see. Luckily, we know how this story ends. NASA’s 15 simulators, used to train and prepare Apollo 13 for every kind of issue, became the proving grounds for the first digital twin and played a critical role in saving the astronauts. Today, in advanced manufacturing, the technology offers optimization, speed, and a lot more. More Than a Model A digital twin is more than a computer approximation or simple 3D model – it is an ever-evolving, data-driven digital representation of a system. NASA’s physical simulators have now been replaced by fully virtual spaces where sensor information fills in the details, with no guesswork needed. Digital twins use real-time data aggregation and processing to simulate – or “twin” – a system, providing users with a non-destructive sandbox that mirrors physical assets. Given enough computing power, their scale can span from individual serial numbers to entire business ecosystems.

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