With so much data being traded between disparate machines and systems, achieving interoperability has been one of Industry 4.0’s greatest hurdles to overcome. As such, there’s been no shortage of new consortiums, industry groups, and standards launched over the past several years to address the interoperability challenge. One of the most recent entities to come into being is the Digital Twin Consortium (DTC), which was launched in 2020 by the Object Management Group (OMG). The OMG also hosts the Industrial Internet Consortium.
Digital Twins—simulations which provide end-users with a virtual copy of assets and production systems and even entire facilities—have been a topic of discussion for some time now. This technology has seen an uptick in interest over the past few years due to its ability to facilitate remote access to plant infrastructure and provide supply chain planners with end-to-end, real-time visibility into the production capacities of various facilities.
To support this increasing interest in digital twins, the DTC aims to accelerate the deployment of digital twin technology by defining best practices for digital twin use, with the goal of easing barriers to adoption and increasing interoperability. Most recently, the group has announced an open-source collaboration community that will allow members and non-members alike to work together on open-source projects to develop code that will become a part of the DTC ecosystem.
Those who wish to contribute to the new open-source collaboration community must first complete a project application for the DTC Technical Advisory Committee to review. If approved, contributors are able to upload their projects to the DTC Open-Source Collaboration GitHub site, which contains project files and revision histories, enabling other users to re-use and improve upon shared content.
Like digital twins, the open-source approach to software development is another trend that has taken off in recent years, allowing for rapid advances in software, as engineers and developers can make use of large, online libraries of pre-existing code rather than having to create their own line-by-line. As a result, barriers to entry have been significantly lowered for numerous digital technologies.
"We hypothesize that the Internet of Things (IoT) can only be successful if a lot of parties work together. And we believe there is no better collaboration form than open source,” said Johan Stokking, co-founder and chief technology officer at The Things Industries. “It (open source) allows parties to fork existing ideas, experiment with them in an agile way, and commit the good parts back that help the common ecosystem objectives. The Digital Twin Consortium's Open-Source Collaboration Initiative will catalyze like-minded community expansion."