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Digital Twin accelerator, powering industry 4.0

Digital Twin accelerator, powering industry 4.0

John Milligan

John Milligan

Associate Consultant, Emerging Technologies

Digital Twin accelerator, powering industry 4.0

Digital Twin systems enables organisations across multiple industries to extend asset life, manage systems and improve efficiency. ARQ have been working closely with the water utility industry to develop and deploy a Digital Twin system.

In this post we’ll explain why these emerging technologies are so exciting, and beneficial to so many organisations.

Digital Twins: Bridging the Digital & Physical Worlds

A digital twin is in essence a digital replica of a system, including its physical elements. It is to IoT (Internet of Things) what Excel Charts was to raw table data. A human centered, easy to understand representation that helps to rapidly drive decisions. An example many are likely familiar with is Google Maps or Uber, which report to the user where on the road their transportation is.

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These digital representations of real-world systems can be anything from a small smart home setup, a large factory production line or even making a city’s infrastructure ‘smart’. In a smart home, Digital Twins can reduce energy bills, ensure the house is kept in comfortable temperature conditions and more around the clock, all without human interaction. In an industry setting, Digital Twins can significantly reduce operational costs. Fundamentally driven by sensors in an interconnected system, a digital twin has the potential to increase productivity, efficiency, automation and more. Just as powerfully, the substantial growth in data provided by these sensors that was previously unavailable provides enormous opportunity to generate new insights and drive further innovation, backed up by hard data.

ARQ is helping businesses grow through Digital Twins

Digital Twins have the potential to greatly improve both the day to day and long-term operations and the experiences a service, business, or product can achieve. However, there’s a perception that they are complex long-term engagements that require multi-year, multi-million-dollar investments to achieve a return on investment. The perception may be accurate if attempting to develop an all-encompassing digital twin system, so it isn’t surprising some businesses may be hesitant to invest in this area, even with such fantastic potential. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. ARQ provides an accelerated digital twin solution, what we call a ‘Twin In A Box’. By keeping a narrow focus for the digital twin, it is far easier and cost effective to develop, deploy and begin gaining a return on the investment. Both large and even the smallest of organisations can use Digital Twins to gain a competitive advantage and make a big impact – when effective and targeted choices are made.

North East Water engaged ARQ to improve the efficiency of their operations. Rather than attempting to transform their entire network, together we researched which area to initially target to bring them the most value. For North East Water’s network, it was their sewer pumps. Their standard operations were nearly entirely reactive; they would only be aware of an issue with their pumps after they had occurred. Instead of requiring a call out to an engineer at 2 am on a Saturday to resolve a problem, with ARQ’s partnership North East Water could foresee, plan and fix the issue at 2 pm on a Friday. Likewise, without any real time information on their pump’s conditions, maintenance would simply be scheduled on regular intervals, not necessarily when or if it was needed.

With ARQ’s accelerated digital twin, North East Water effectively have a set ‘eyes’ on the ground. This real time data enables the North East Water to determine in advance where and when maintenance of individual pumps is actually required. These are only two examples of the many advantages a single implementation our accelerated digital twin solution can provide. With our ‘Twin In A Box’ solution, we are confident many businesses can achieve a return on investment in as little as six months.

ARQ Loves Innovation

The Emerging Technology team loves the adoption of this technology so much, that they are even using it at home. An ARQ team member has a fully connected smart house that they developed. While fantastic, achieving such a comprehensive, interconnected and bespoke system was not an easy task.

Smart House

The smart house system provides many benefits including cost and energy savings from intelligent and automated air conditioning and climate systems which have saved them upwards of 30% on their energy bills.

A digital twin with a focused capability not only accelerates gaining benefits but can also serve as a foundation for future capabilities. Both our ARQ team member and North East Water are able to build on top of their existing system, and when deploying future capabilities onto a system that is already providing value, the cost in time, resources and complexity are all effectively lowered.

The Nuts & Bolts of Digital Twin Technologies

At ARQ, we implement digital twins using a hybrid design system, from edge to cloud. Operating with cloud and local servers and computation (edge) allows for rapid responses, even when internet connections are interrupted and/or if required for critical areas, such as emergency or safety applications.

Artificial Intelligence integration helps a improve efficiency, which is already providing enormous value in the previously mentioned engagement with North East Water. Through ARQ’s ‘Twin In A Box’ solution, North East Water have achieved an 80% accuracy for advanced warnings. Driven by these accurate predictions, North East Water is more efficient and better able to plan operators shifts.

We also approach data with easy-to-understand simple 3D visualisations, providing a far more intuitive experience compared to SCADA systems. SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a category of software applications for controlling industrial processes. However, even with more specialist knowledge these are often not the most user-friendly systems.

SCADA Systems

Below is an example of a SCADA Alarm alert, versus that of a Digital Twin incident. As you can see even in this simple example how limited the information is, and more importantly, it doesn’t provide the user any real insights. The digital twin is the inverse, more actual data that is also armed with potential insights about said data.

SCADA Alarm

Data on its own is ultimately useless, these more intuitive systems open the data and the insights it brings to everyone. Designing with greater usability in mind ultimately benefits everyone, including specialists.

Digital Twin

With that said, we can build these upon an existing SCADA system if a business already has one in operation, along with their existing sensors or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and have this work within security boundaries. (Programmable Logic Controllers are the hardware that picks up the information from the real world, in use within multiple industries for decades).

Accessible and Reliable

ARQ and our ‘Twin In A Box’ solution also works closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud platform, providing greater portability and accessibility by providing users to access our accelerated Digital Twin systems anywhere, and on any device. 

At ARQ we explore, develop, and deploy these cutting-edge technologies in our own offices. The ARQ Officetwin allows us to put into practice the benefits of a digital twin, and acting as a test bed for continuous discovery work in real world conditions.

ARQ’s Digital Twin Vision

Our aim is to make these technologies more accessible to Australian organisations based on the learnings we’ve seen in the North American and European markets. The core of our approach in achieving this quite simple, namely by keeping a narrow focus a digital twin is far easier and more cost effective to develop, deploy and begin gaining a return on the investment. ARQ is shifting this landscape in Australia from playing in innovation, to solving real world problems, through new applications of existing and emerging technologies.

This doesn’t just benefit individual projects but enables our fundamental methodology to be far more easily transferable and repeatable across different engagements. This efficient and cost-effective approach benefits both ARQ and our client partners, enables rapid development, providing far more immediate value, reducing the cost, and streamlines the deployment of any future capabilities.

ARQ’s ‘Digital Twin In A Box’, provides an end to end implementation for one use case on a scalable platform, to rapidly achieve a return on investment, and build a business case for further strategic adoption. It is difficult to state just how much opportunity there is across numerous industries and applications to bridge the physical and digital worlds. ARQ is delivering this opportunity better, faster and more efficiently, and we want to help more companies, organisations and people, join us in this exciting and evolving landscape.

We would like to thank Yuchong Li, James Litjens and the rest of the Digital Twin team for their amazing contribution to this project.

If you wish to know more about how your organisation can benefit from Digital Twins, feel free to contact us at emerging.technologies@arq.group

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5 essential tips to create an Augmented Reality Experience that even your grandpa would love!

5 essential tips to create an Augmented Reality Experience that even your grandpa would love!

Sowmiya Selvakumaras

Sowmiya Selvakumaras

Associate Consultant, Emerging Technologies

Valerie Sandford

Valerie Sandford

Project Manager
ARQ Group

5 essential tips to create an Augmented Reality Experience that even your grandpa would love!

A successful Augmented Reality (AR) experience integrates the digital world and physical world seamlessly and any interaction should feel like you are interacting within a real-world environment. This makes the concept of traditional navigation design patterns redundant and leads us to develop a system that blends the digital and real world.

As per recent data, by 2024 there will be an estimated 1.7 billion mobile augmented reality (AR) users worldwide, a rise of 1.5 billion from the 200 million seen in 2015. In 2022, there will be an estimated 1.1 billion mobile AR users worldwide.

In this blog, ARQ’s Emerging Technologies experts will share five essential tips to creating a successful AR user experience.

1. Bridge the gap between real and virtual

For a seamless AR user experience, the transition between the real and virtual world must be smooth. The more virtual components simulate real-life objects, the better the end user experience.

We recommend considering how an object’s appearance changes as you get closer and re-evaluating if you need to make it sharper and clearer. Especially when the object is tethered to a real-world object like in a tracker based AR scene or a plane tracking AR scene.

There are certain features like casting shadows, simulating real world physics like gravity, acceleration of an object, adding right lighting, and reflection which have a significant impact on AR scenes.

Furthermore, you need to determine whether the user will be attempting to use the AR app from an indoor or outdoor environment. As, this will impact how you set up the environment texture and lighting. For reference this image shows how lighting and textures can have a significant impact on these two 3D models with the same polygon count.

Object Texture

2. Add 3D objects and animations to the experience

With recent technical advancements, incorporating 3D models into your AR experience has never been easier. 3D elements add a sense of depth and realism to the scene. The challenge is keeping it to an optimal size while also making it look realistic. One way to get around this is reducing the number of polygons and focusing on the textures and materials. Many 3D modeling softwares like Blender have plug-ins to perform this at a click of a button.

We also recommend you avoid including too many 3D elements as it can overwhelm the user and clutter up the screen space (real and virtual).

Polygon Reduction Effect
Polygon Reduction Effect
3. Choose the right digital and physical spaces
 
As augmented reality experiences are spatial and always interconnected with the real world, the environment plays a key role in the design process. The environment can be broken down into four zones, based on the distance from the user.
Users Level of Space
Most AR experiences incorporate intimate and personal space like face filters for example. While Pokémon Go is an example of AR experience used in social and public space. Thus assess the zones in which the AR experience will be used when curating it.
 
Your mobile phone acts as a portal to the AR world. The UI of the mobile phone needs to be such that it guides the user. The most prominent region of the mobile screen is the center. It is easy to overlook areas near the camera icon and corners.
 
The green zone in the figure below displays the best location for your virtual element. Hover over the image to find more details.
4. Guide the user through the experience 
 
Since many users are still new to augmented reality, it is essential that simple and clear instructions are provided to assist them through the experience.
 
Animated micro instructions and visual instructions should guide the user through the following steps to successfully launch and run an AR experience.
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It is important to note that the instruction should not overshadow the experience and should be as subtle as possible
 
When it comes to target tracking, adding visual cues of the target image will help guide the user through the experience.
Click and drag the hand to find the target
5. Keep the user engaged
 
To make it more engaging, get the user to be a part of the experience by including their input.
 
Make sure not to overload them with too many inputs. Simple gestures like screen tap, object tap, facial expression changes are ideal to be included. The image below shows the most actionable areas on the mobile screen, which are easily accessible with a swift movement of the finger. 

Through following these five tips you can ensure that your Augmented Reality experience is a success.

If you wish to know more about Augemented Reality Experiences, feel free to contact us at emerging.technologies@arq.group

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Meet our new ARQ Queensland State Lead

Meet our new ARQ Queensland State Lead

Tim Kuusik

Timothy (Tim) Kuusik, State Lead – Queensland, leads ARQ’s Queensland business. He recently spoke to us about his new role leading the Queensland ARQ business, the eclectic background which led to his role at ARQ and the top technology trends he predicts over the next five years. He also shared a fun fact about his experience playing string quartet at weddings.

What are you most excited about in your new role?

At ARQ, our mission is to make local impact by designing and building innovative solutions for our customers. In this new role I’m most excited about leading our Queensland team towards this mission as we digitally transform both government and enterprise organisations.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have had the pleasure of attending over 1,200 weddings but not as a guest…I don’t have that many friends. For ten years I was in a string quartet playing music at weddings. This included weddings on sandy beaches, deep in the canopies of rainforests, on giant yachts and for a tent full of A-list celebrities.

Can you share with us a little bit more about you and your background pre-ARQ?

I have a fairly eclectic background. My career began when I started my own business building websites for enterprise organisations on the Gold Coast. At that time websites were digitally transforming organisations and bringing them in to the age of e-commerce. It was also the time when Windows 98, Internet Explorer and Zip drives were the cool tech toys all the cool kids were talking about. I then made a jump into a Big 4 accounting firm where I learned how businesses operate at the atomic financial level – I became a Chartered Accountant. After 12 years consulting in Big 4, I moved back to the world of digital transformation with Arq Group where we were not only consulting but also building the solutions we recommended to our clients. 

How did you end up in the Technology Industry?

I knew I loved technology when I first got my hands on a 1989 Gameboy. However, my real appreciation for building technology started when I was 6 years old and my uncle taught me how to code in BASIC and Assembler on a 486 microprocessor computer. Since then, I have been using technology to make not only my life better but also for help my clients succeed in the industries in which they operate.

What are the top trends you predict over the next 5 years?

These are the five technology trends we should be ready for in the next five years:

  • Data..just more data. We are going to see data being captured, used and democratised in more places. It would not surprise me at all if, in the future, accounting standards require businesses to value the future economic benefit of data and to record it as an asset on their balance sheets.
  • Google Glass was first introduced in 2013. It was highly experimental back then but I believe smart glasses are going to make a come-back and have real world commercial benefits.
  • Quantum ..I believe we are going to see “quantum” leaps in this technology over the next five years.
  • The meta-verse…not sure about this one. Call me a luddite but I’m thinking this might not have “real life” use within the next five years. We will see lots of novelty applications but, who knows, let’s watch this space.
  • The digital divide is going to be amplified and it is our job as leaders driving digital transformations to ensure we close the gap so that everyone across all demographics have equal access to digital technology.
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Meet our new ARQ Victoria State Lead

Meet our new ARQ Victoria State Lead

Kate Prohasky

Kate Prohasky, State Lead – Victoria, leads the ARQ business for the state. She spoke to us about her new role leading the Victorian ARQ business and the varied career path which led to her working in the technology industry. Kate also shared the top technology trends she predicts over the next five years.

What are you most excited about in your new role?

I’m excited to work with clients and our team to solve complex business and community problems with technology. The pace of change in our lives throughout the last two years has opened my eyes up to the capacity of Victorians and businesses to be adaptive and resilient. I am excited to have the opportunity to play a small part in creating a place that is more than a workplace, but a place where people are inspired, motivated and have a sense of belonging. I truly believe that the team we have in Victoria at the moment at ARQ is unique with the level of innovation and curiosity, the energy and passion they have for their clients, and the willingness they are to support each other is something I feel so humbled to be a part of.    

What’s a fun fact about you?

 I learnt my sales skills by working as a pharmaceutical sales rep knocking on GP doctor’s doors in Western Sydney. It was a deep dive into handling objections and rejections at every doctor’s surgery.

Can you share with us a little bit more about you and your background pre-ARQ?

ARQ has really proven that it values diversity in its approach to its people as my background is far from a typical journey into tech. My most recent experience prior to ARQ was working as a Lean Six Sigma Consultant delivering operational improvement work and training to large corporates. My formal sales training was in the pharmaceutical industry which thickened my skin. I started my career as a physiotherapist so I try to make the link between working with people, to selling pharmaceuticals to improving operations of businesses as pretty good well-rounded experience to help me step into this role.

How did you end up in the Technology Industry?

I ended up in the technology industry almost by accident. I was attracted to the business problems that were solved through the use of technology, rather than the technology itself. I have learnt so much in my time at ARQ and continue to be amazed at the diverse talent we have at ARQ. The pace of change in the technology industry is what constantly keeps me learning which is something that is important for me. 

What are the top trends you predict over the next 5 years?

We will continue to see the rise of automation through the use of technology replace labour in many industries. People will always play a part in delivering services and products as relationships will never be replaced by bots. There will be a new wave of connectiveness through a combination of digital + personal connection as people realise the 100% virtual world of COVID is not a world people want to remain in. We will see continued increase in women in technology and the needle towards 50:50 will move slowly.

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Meet our new ARQ New South Wales State Lead

Meet our new ARQ New South Wales State Lead

Amanda Milin

Amanda Milin, State Lead – New South Wales, leads the ARQ business for New South Wales. She spoke to us about her exciting new role, the career pivot which led to her finding a new role in the technology sector, the top trends she sees over the next five years and her passion for trying new things.

What excites you for your new role?

In my new role as ARQ New South Wales State Lead, I’m focused on growth – the ability to really positively influence and grow our business. I am excited to help develop and grow the next generation of leaders and improve myself. There are so many interesting people here at ARQ that come from a diverse range of backgrounds – I’m excited by the possibility of leveraging individual’s personal strengths to see how we can do things better for ourselves, for ARQ and for our clients…and have some fun along the way.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I can’t sit still and my life is always evolving. I always like to try new things and challenge myself both physically and mentally. The range includes starting to learn how to play golf (I’m still woeful), getting into road biking (I’m better at this than golf), new hikes and water sports. I love being with friends and family and especially when it is combined with travel – I’m off overseas soon for the first time in a few years.

How did you end up in the Technology Industry?

I’ve had a varied career journey to say the least. I started as a corporate lawyer in both big law firms and in-house, and then became a small business owner. I then made a complete switch to technology sales and management. I’ve been at ARQ for over three years and have had the great fortune to work alongside very talented people, who have supported me and encouraged me in the roles that I have had. I have learnt completely new skills, taken on new challenges and forged a career in a completely different industry that presents opportunity every single day.

What are the top trends you predict over the next 5 years?

  • How cloud maturity- not just adoption – will be essential for 2022 technology advancements
  • Surviving the Great Resignation – in a dynamic labour market organisations must focus more and more on employee retention. This will require increased investments in reskilling and upskilling programs. The best employee experiences will benefit customers and ultimately lead to better business results.
  • Remote work is here to stay – but we need to improve how we remote work and create effective hybrid models with face-to-face time in the office. Personal engagement is so important in the workplace from a collaboration and knowledge transfer perspective.
  • For organisations undergoing significant digital transformation – bringing people on the journey is equally as important as the technology. The key to success will be ensuring that the best fit operating models and organisational structures are in place and aligned to support transformation initiatives.
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