Digital Twin vs. Digital Thread: Definition, Benefits, and More

Author: Nishanth PK
June 27, 2023
Digital Twin vs. Digital Thread: Definition, Benefits, and More

Digital Twin and Digital Thread have emerged as two of the most important concepts in the world of Industry 4.0. 

Though both these are distinct concepts, the terms are often used interchangeably. These concepts have unique applications and benefits, which we will discuss in this blog. 

Upon finishing this blog, you will have a clear idea about the following, 

  • Benefits of using them

  • The differences and synergies between the two concepts

  • and when to choose them. 

Without further ado, let's dive in.

What are Digital Thread and Digital Twin?

Digital Thread is the flow of information about a product from its inception till its end. It captures all relevant data and interactions in a cohesive and accessible manner. 

Whatever data we require for the Digital Twin is brought in from the Digital Thread. Therefore, we can also define it as an extensible, configurable, and enterprise-level framework to make a Digital Twin. 

This digital trail of information enables businesses to better understand their products, optimize processes, and enhance overall efficiency.

A Digital Twin is a virtual replica of a physical object, system, or process. It is designed to simulate its real-world counterpart. By creating a Digital Twin, companies can understand the physical object's behavior, performance, and potential issues. 

It helps companies to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and support innovation. They are commonly used in industries such as 

  • Manufacturing

  • Aerospace

  • Automotive

  • Energy

Read more about digital twins examples

Importance of Digital Threads and Twins

Digital Thread

The importance of Digital Threads lies in the benefits they offer, some of which include the following: 

  • Improved Efficiency

The deep interconnected network in Digital Thread helps eliminate redundancies and streamline workflows. For example, engineers can easily access and reuse design data from Digital Threads. This reduces the time required to create new product iterations.

  • Enhanced Collaboration

The centralized platform in the Digital Thread allows everyone to share, review and modify data. This helps improve collaboration between departments, minimizing miscommunication and errors. 

  • Better Decision-Making

You can track the data in real time throughout the product lifecycle to make informed decisions. For example, manufacturers can track production data to identify and rectify bottlenecks. Whereas operators can monitor performance data to schedule equipment maintenance to avoid failures. 

  • Reduced Costs

Digital Thread helps you streamline processes, improve collaboration, and make data-driven decisions. As a result, it helps reduce your production costs, maintenance, and product lifecycle management. 

Digital Twin

Digital Twins can enhance efficiency, optimize performance, and reduce costs across various industries. It also enables companies to test new ideas, troubleshoot issues and predict future outcomes without disrupting the system. 

The following are some key benefits of Digital Twins:

  • Improved Decision-Making

Companies can test different scenarios and evaluate the potential impact of their choices. As a result, it helps them make better-informed decisions.

Digital Twins allow remote monitoring of the physical asset, helping understand its health and issues. Therefore you can take proactive measures to rectify the problems before they become critical. 

  • Innovation and Product Development

It allows rapid prototyping and testing of new products or designs, accelerating the innovation process and reducing time-to-market.

  • Enhanced Performance

It helps you identify inefficiencies and suggest improvements, enhancing the performance of your system. 

Discover how Toobler helped reduce potential downtime for their clients with predictive maintenance.

Digital Thread vs Digital Twin: Difference

Though both technologies help in digital transformation and provide operational benefits to companies, there are some differences too between them. 

The following table depicts the differences between them:

Benefits of combining Digital Twin and Digital Thread

Though both are distinct concepts, they can be integrated to provide more efficient and sustainable industrial operations. Following are 2 such benefits companies can get by combining both concepts. 

Optimizing Processes and Performance

By combining the two concepts, companies can create a comprehensive digital ecosystem. This encompasses the entire product lifecycle, from design to manufacturing. 

With Digital Twins, companies can monitor in real-time, optimize performance, and more. At the same time, Digital Threads connect data from all stages while ensuring seamless communication and collaboration among different teams.

When integrated, these technologies enable data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement. For example, engineers can use the Digital Twin to test and validate design changes in a virtual environment. While the Digital Thread ensures that these changes are propagated through the entire lifecycle, streamlining the development and manufacturing process.

Efficient and Sustainable Industrial Operations 

Integrating both concepts allows organizations to monitor the asset's health, predict failures, and schedule maintenance. As a result, it reduces the overall operational costs and enhances sustainability. 

It also enables companies to improve efficiency by reducing downtime, minimizing defects, and optimizing asset performance. Follow the link to learn how digital twins help with sustainable construction

Examples of Successful Implementation

Following are two companies that have successfully combined both technologies into their business. 

a) General Electric (GE)

GE has implemented Digital Twin and Digital Thread technologies across its business units. This includes aviation, power, and healthcare. By combining these technologies, GE has improved the following

  • Design Process

  • Manufacturing Efficiency

  • Maintenance Operations 

All this resulted in significant cost savings and performance improvements for the company. 

b) Siemens

Siemens leverages both technologies to optimize the performance of its products and production systems. The integration of these technologies allows Siemens to improve the following

  • Design and manufacturing processes

  • Streamline communication, 

  • And enhance asset management capabilities.

The above-mentioned ultimately lead to better outcomes for both the company and its customers.

Suggested read: How to Choose Your Digital Twin Development Company

How to choose between Digital Thread and Digital Twin?

Choosing between Digital Thread and Digital Twin strongly depends on your company's needs and goals. For example, if you are primarily interested in optimizing your manufacturing processes and improving quality, then Digital Thread may be the better option. On the other hand, if you want to monitor and optimize the performance of a specific product, system, or process, the Digital Twin may be more suitable.

It's worth noting that Digital Thread and Digital Twin are not mutually exclusive, and they can complement each other. For example, the Digital Twin can be used to collect data and simulate different scenarios. Whereas Digital Thread can provide context and traceability to that data, helping to ensure that decisions are based on accurate and complete information.

Trouble choosing? Contact our experts at Toobler

With experience building Digital Twins like TwinBin, our team of experts can help you create, implement and maintain digital twins with ease. Learn more about how we helped create TwinBin. 

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