Presented by Keysight Technologies
By Cheryl Ajluni
Sustainability is a top priority for all organizations today. For example, a third of Europe’s largest companies have committed to net zero emissions by 2050, according to Accenture.
Yet the company also found that companies need to significantly accelerate their efforts over the next decade, as only 9% of companies are currently on track to meet this goal.
One of the ways organizations can achieve net zero and tackle other sustainability efforts is through the combined power of digital twins and AI.
The technologies provide businesses with unprecedented insights into their operations that can then inform sustainability improvements and help them achieve their climate goals.
For example, digital twins can be used to test different scenarios and help companies determine the best strategies to reduce energy consumption and emissions.
Technological advancements are accelerating the adoption of digital twins
Of course, digital twins have already been deployed in various ways. For example, helping healthcare researchers create highly accurate models of the heart, lungs or other organs to improve clinical diagnostics, education and training.
The energy industry also offers many use cases for digital twins, including creating digital models to guide oil drilling efforts in real time.
But recent technological advances in simulation and modeling capabilities, increased deployment of IoT sensors, and more widely available computing infrastructure mean businesses may increase their reliance on digital twins.
And when organizations empower digital twins with AI, they can realize additional benefits, such as running simulations to study what-if scenarios and gain a better understanding of cause and effect.
There are many examples of how these technologies can improve operations, including their ability to inform a greener world. With that in mind, below are a few use cases that demonstrate how digital twins and AI are driving sustainability improvements across industries.
By 2025, 89% of all IoT platforms will include digital twins, transforming how industrial and manufacturing facilities operate and providing granular insights to improve sustainability efforts. Examples include:
Investigate ways to reduce energy consumption through a better understanding of where energy loss occurs
Use predictive analytics to determine how emissions could be reduced by making various changes
Conduct risk assessments to identify operational weaknesses that could lead to accidents with environmental impact
GE Digital is an organization that has pioneered the use of digital twins and AI to improve sustainability. Using its autonomous tuning software, the company creates a digital twin of its gas turbines to find optimum flame temperature and fuel distributions.
The technology detects changes in environmental and physical degradation in real time, facilitating automatic adjustments to ensure gas turbines operate efficiently at low emissions and noise levels.
Using this technology, power plants have reduced carbon monoxide by 14% and nitrous oxide emissions by 10-14%.
City planning, management and optimization is another area on the verge of transformation thanks to the combined power of digital twins and AI.
These smart cities offer many benefits: fighting food insecurity, increasing mobility and helping identify criminal activity, to name a few. Smart cities also have a lot to offer in the form of sustainable development goals.
Using digital twins and AI, city governments can understand, quantify and predict the impact of their decisions on the environment and test potential scenarios to determine the most beneficial situation for the environment.
For example, Transport for London (TfL) uses digital twins to collect data on noise, heat and carbon emissions across the entire tube network. Before deploying the technology, TfL staff could only inspect assets when the Tube was closed between 1am and 5am.
With the real-time network access offered by the digital twin, TfL can now assess locations throughout operating hours and also spot data that was previously undetected by the human eye, such as faults and hot spots of heat and noise. Officials believe the project will be a key part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s goal of a carbon-free rail system by 2030.
As carbon neutrality becomes a priority for cities around the world, expect the use of digital twins and AI to increase.
Just as digital twins and AI can help cities’ sustainability efforts, they are also increasingly being used to create smart buildings.
The technologies ensure that sustainability is a priority from the start, allowing construction managers and other stakeholders to develop virtual representations that can assess a building’s anticipated carbon footprint during the design phase.
This is the approach the developers took when designing The Hickman in London, which became the first building in the world to receive a Platinum smart building rating from SmartScore.
During construction, the digital twin was connected to the building management system via a variety of sensors, providing an integrated view of data such as occupancy, temperature, air quality, light levels and energy consumption.
Not only did this allow developers to optimize energy performance and reduce carbon emissions, but it also laid the foundation for future sustainability improvements, as these can first be simulated through the model. digital from The Hickman.
There is growing regulatory pressure on the construction industry to design greener buildings, so we can only expect more developers to follow The Hickman’s lead and seek to address sustainability issues before to innovate.
Becoming a more sustainable industry and ultimately the planet has been an elusive goal for several years. But with recent advances in AI and the increased adoption of digital twins, that vision is about to come to fruition.
Now is the time for organizations to harness the combined power of these technologies to gain insights at every stage of operations that will support a more sustainable, less carbon-intensive economy at the micro level and a greener world overall.
Cheryl Ajluni is Director of Industry Solutions at Keysight Technologies. She has spent the past 30 years as a technology expert, taking on highly complex technical topics and helping others understand them. His work ranges from researching and developing optical solutions for satellite solar panel testing to writing an RF circuit design manual.
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