By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist
Here is an interesting article from my colleague Joe Kim, in which he discusses how technology drives military asset management.
Military personnel need to be able to easily manage the lifecycle of their connected assets, from creation to maintenance to retirement. They can do this by creating a digital representation of a physical object, like a troop transport, which they can use for a number of purposes, including monitoring the asset’s health status, movements, location, and more.
The concept behind these “digital twins” was first presented in 2002 during a University of Michigan presentation by Dr. Michael Grieves, who posited that there are two systems: one physical, the other a digital representation that contained all of the information about the physical system. His thought was that the digital twin could be used to monitor and support the entire life cycle of its physical sibling and, in the process, keep that sibling functioning and healthy.
Digitizing a vehicle
Consider a military vehicle that has just rolled off the assembly line and is ready to be commissioned.
Getting the most out of this asset requires consistent maintenance. Ideally, that maintenance can be performed proactively to prevent any potential breakdowns. It can be difficult to know or keep track of when the vehicle may need maintenance, and impossible to predict when a breakdown may occur.
Fortunately, the data collected by the various sensors contained within the vehicle can be used to create a digital twin. This representation can provide a very clear picture, in real time, of its status.
Further, by collecting this information over time, the digital twin has the ability to create an evolving yet extraordinarily accurate picture of how the vehicle will perform in the future. As the sensors continue to report information, the digital twin continues to learn, model, and adapt its prediction of future performance.
This information can help teams in a number of ways. The analytics derived from historical performance data can be used to point to potential warning signs and predict failures before they occur, thereby helping avoid unwanted downtime. Data can also be used to diagnose a problem and even, in some cases, solve the issue remotely. At the least, digital twins can be used to help guide soldiers and repair specialists to quickly fix the problem on the ground.
The life cycle management process also becomes much more efficient. Digital twins can help simplify and accelerate management of a particular thing, in this case, a physical entity like a vehicle.
Taking the next step
The digital twin concept is a logical next step to consider for defense agencies that have already begun investing in software-defined services. These services are designed to simplify and accelerate the management of core technology concepts, including computing, storage, and networking. The idea is to improve the management of each of these concepts throughout their life cycles, from planning and design through production, deployment, maintenance, and, finally, retirement.
Digital twins take this concept a step further by applying it to physical objects. It’s an evolution for the military’s ever-growing web of connectivity. Digital twins, and the data analysis they depend on, can open the doors to more efficient and effective asset lifecycle management.
Find the full article on SIGNAL.