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Digital twin: Reflecting reality

The industrial metaverse – a comprehensive, networked, and interactive environment for the industrial world – has arrived. At the heart of this new era is the digital twin, an exact virtual image of reality. But why is this digital twin so important, and what's it all about?

According to the definition, a digital twin is a 1:1 virtual representation of a physical object, process, or system. It represents not only the external form of an object, but also its behavior, state, and interactions with the environment. This virtual copy is continuously updated with real-time data from the real-world object to accurately mirror its state and behavior – and thus to simulate and model it.

Digital twins are being used in an increasing number of industries and applications. They allow engineers to monitor the state and performance of machinery and systems, carry out predictive maintenance, and optimize efficiency. The digital twin is used to support the entire life cycle of a product or plant, particularly in mechanical engineering and automation.

A digital twin is not the same as a simulation model

The digital twin is often equated to simulations, but there are significant differences. Simulation models are more abstract and are often based on mathematical models that run through various scenarios. They often rely on simplified assumptions about the system and can differ from the real world.

A digital twin, on the other hand, is created directly from real data and information about the physical object. As a result, it offers a more accurate representation of the real system and can be updated in real time. Simulations tend to focus on specific aspects of the system, while the digital twin takes a more comprehensive and inclusive approach.

The twin at your side for life

The digital twin is increasingly becoming the central data hub in industrial companies, making it a key component of the digital transformation. Virtual images support products and solutions throughout their entire life cycle – from development through manufacturing to daily operation and recycling.

Virtual engineering is a common area of application for the digital twin. Comprehensive simulation models can be created from digital twins for components of a system. One example is the development of an autonomous robotic arm which is tested and optimized in a virtual environment before actually being built. This results in cost savings and improves the performance of the final product.

Digital twins are part of the ctrlX AUTOMATION family

Bosch Rexroth's automation system ctrlX AUTOMATION offers a wide range of possibilities for using digital twins. Firstly, data from the digital twin can be used to create all sorts of virtual images of Bosch Rexroth's automation products, for example for 3DViewer, ctrlX WORKS and ctrlX DRIVE Engineering. Secondly, corresponding partner apps from the ctrlX World, e.g. iPhysics, ISG-virtuos and MATLAB/Simulink, can be used for various digital twin applications.

The software and engineering toolbox ctrlX WORKS allows users to create one or more virtual controllers on a PC and operate them via a web-based interface. By using the virtual version of ctrlX CORE, testing and commissioning can be carried out without any control hardware – with full functionality. The simulation model is used in the testing of PLC and motion programs, for example.  More than 90 controller variants and several hundred motors including mechanics can be simulated offline using the engineering tool ctrlX DRIVE Engineering. This allows for creation and optimization of real sets of parameters using dynamic tests, which can be seamlessly applied to real hardware.

Whether we're talking about controls or drives – the digital twin is part of the ctrlX AUTOMATION family and brings reality into the virtual future today.

Our whitepaper "Digital Twin – Reflecting reality" provides more insights:

The future of automation – Part 5

Digital twin – Reflecting reality

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Expert Digital Twin

Sonja König

Game Changer
Digital Twin




Opened copy of the ctrlX AUTOMATION magazine 2023/2024

ctrlX AUTOMATION Magazin 2023/2024

„Openness is everything“ – this is the motto of the ctrlX AUTOMATION magazine 2023/2024. This year, it´s all about openness and co-creation, which enables a completely new world of automation. Furthermore, there will be innovations of the product portfolio, exciting case studies and expert opinions on digitalization and connectivity.

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