Frank Popielas of SMS_ThinkTank Encourages Companies to Embrace the “Digital Twin”

The idea of a “Digital Twin” in the engineering field has proven to be an abstract concept relatively difficult to grasp for those in the industry. Given its complex nature, Frank Popielas, Managing Partner and Co-founder of SMS_ThinkTank, has dedicated a great portion of his time as an engineering professional to helping businesses understand the undeniable importance of Digital Twin.

“One of the main things with Digital Twin is that no matter where you are in the industry, it’s a catchphrase,” said Popielas. “My goal has been to establish what a Digital Twin is as a physics-based model, which is linked to the real world physical asset. If you don’t have a connection to a specific physical asset, you do not have a Digital Twin; it would just be a virtual model. It sounds easy, but there are a lot of people in this field that do not want to understand it.”

Popielas went on to contextualize Digital Twin as it relates to systemic engineering and the necessity for a continuous education regarding its modern importance.

“The modern understanding of Digital Twin when we are talking about autonomous driving or flying capabilities is that it is a key piece. If you want to automate something, you have to have virtual, predictive capabilities. Many people think Digital Twin is something you buy off the shelf, but it’s not,” said Popielas.

Although many engineers deny the usefulness of Digital Twin knowledge at present, Popielas emphasized its inevitable ubiquity given the rapid advancements in technology and large-scale automation.

“Digital Twin will become essential in our lifestyle. A.I. is everywhere,” said Popielas. “Even though many people don’t think about Digital Twin from a virtual standpoint, it’s absolutely necessary for interactive experiences in society. We want to feel something and get feedback immediately, both from a user and a performance perspective. There will be a demand for it in every aspect of life.”

Just as he did in 2019, Popielas will once again present on Digital Twin at COExperience 2020 and focus on the latest developments as they relate to businesses maintaining a competitive edge in the engineering space.

“This year at COExperience, I will be talking about business maturity and competitive positon. What are the various maturity levels? How do we improve our capabilities in order to get there? My goal is to lay out those road maps,” said Popielas. “I’m hoping the attendees of my COExperience presentation walk away with the idea that, besides being essential, you have to have a vision for how Digital Twin will apply to your business and plan accordingly. You cannot do this alone and it will not happen overnight. You are in a competitive situation, but you sometimes have to work with your competitors to realize your vision.”

Popielas provided some final insight with regard to Digital Twin having the power to render engineering companies obsolete if they refuse to integrate it into their business models.

“If companies do not embrace Digital Twin, they will disappear. As a market leader, a business will lose influence. Everything is changing, and you have to adapt. You have to be able to do much more virtually. If companies do not change the way they operate, they will face the threat of disappearing. New companies are coming up left and right. You need to change, you need to embrace, and you need to have a plan.”

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