Guest Column | September 16, 2020

How Digital Twins Conceptualize The Water Industry

By Sanjeev Verma


The concept of digital twinning is explained, and the implications for water delineated, in this overview of one of digitalization’s greatest assets.

Digital transformation is the future of our society. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming every industrial segment with smart ideas and solutions. Talking specifically about the water sector, replacing the traditional processes of utilizing water with smart methods is the first step towards efficient water conservation.

The fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, aims to connect industries and people through smart methods. IoT introduces new tools for businesses to increase their productivity, and IoT professionals are working on various applications for the water sector and brilliant concepts of efficient water utilization. One such application is digital twinning.

What Is Digital Twinning?

Digital twinning is a concept that uses a virtual representation of physical assets or systems to perform different operations. The aim behind using this application is to check different scenarios on the product virtually and see the results beforehand.

This results in an intelligent and connected digital network model that provides effective planning, creative designing, better construction, and intelligent operations for smart water networks.

How Digital Twinning Concepts Contribute To The Water Industry

Some of the problems faced by water utility departments are:

  • Increasing electricity prices (fluctuating water bills)
  • Expenses for capital improvement
  • Aging factory equipment and infrastructure
  • Water scarcity and excess water loss
  • Urbanization and population increase
  • Natural disasters — floods, drought, cyclones

Water authorities consistently provide reliable and feasible water systems despite these challenges, but they are now adopting digital strategies for efficient water usage and supply.

Digital twinning is a powerful strategy for enhancing the capabilities of the water sector. This concept provides valuable data for water authorities to experiment with the what-if problems and incur suitable outcomes throughout the water system lifecycle. This helps in identifying system issues, making decisions, and responding to emergencies quickly.

By adding digitalization concepts to the water industry, it becomes easier to identify faults and challenges. Using IoT-sensor-enabled devices on the industrial assets helps to extract valuable data, which is further tested on virtual prototypes or digital twins. Hence, digital twinning requires data, and data is fetched through IoT-enabled sensors for further functioning.

Applications Of Digital Twins

A digital twin in the water sector provides utilities with the best physical models, real-time updates of sensor devices, historical data, artificial intelligence, etc., while replicating the behavior of its real-world twin. There are many applications of implementing digital twinning within the water industry.

  • Incorporating a digital twin in the water industry enables utilities to perform events like equipment downtime, pipe failure, contamination, pipeline temperature, etc., to assess the risks that might occur in the future.
  • Utilities are adopting the digital twinning concept because it accurately assesses the real-time behavior of the water system within existing SCADA systems — easily and less expensively.
  • These twins are used to test different ways in which a water system behaves, such as emergency responses, energy consumption, and enhanced efficiency, helping the authorities to make necessary decisions.
  • The digital twin is a unique concept that requires regular updating with operational data, which helps authorities to identify any pipeline leaks to reduce water losses.
  • Creating a water system prototype is an excellent tool to test future scenarios like testing the performance of a water infrastructure against a major flood event. It helps in proper management and planning to stay prepared for the future.

Digital Twins In The Real World: Brazil

The waterworks department in Brazil has adopted the digital twin method to offer an effective water supply in every region. It helps resolve water distribution challenges in the city by reducing water losses through hydraulic controls and analyzing data reliability for future use. The digital twinning concept simulates the existing water supply network by generating all possible scenarios using water planning for future references. This has helped the water authorities to provide consistent water supply, and at a very low implementation cost.

A digital twin brings transparency, allowing operators to optimize processes by performing quick operations and decision-making. This brings efficiency to the entire water network and a holistic understanding of the water system. Eventually, it leads to better and faster decisions based on a data-driven approach. It provides real-time updates and digital linking, which helps in augmenting data management and control processes. Also, a successful digital twin is scalable and useful, more than just being technically accurate. Water industry owners can avail huge benefits by creating operable prototypes and using them to anticipate the results of real-world situations.

About The Author

Sanjeev Verma is the founder and CEO of Biz4Group, based out of Orlando, FL. He has conceptualized the idea of Biz4 Brand and founded Biz4Group and Biz4Intellia. He has 20+ years of experience in boosting IT-based startups to success. In the past, he has worked on leadership positions with Marriott Vacations, Disney, MasterCard, State Farm, and Oracle. The company headed by him excels in developing, implementing, and monitoring digital solutions ranging from IoT solutions and products, mobile and web development, and digital marketing to full stack development and CMS solutions.