Digital twin tech hits the road

South Australian-based automotive and defence supplier Supashock will team with experts at Flinders University and the Department of Defence to develop a more advanced method to test a vehicle’s condition, aiding preventative maintenance and monitoring.  

Development of ‘digital twins’ – a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process – by leading researchers at Flinders University’s College of Science and Engineering, Australian Government Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) and Supashock will support the design of an advanced shock absorber for Supashock – and then be applied more widely.  

Founder and CEO of Supashock, Mr Oscar Fiorinotto, says the latest initiative with cutting-edge R&D partnerships with DSTG and Flinders University, including at the facilities at the Tonsley Innovation District, builds on outstanding collaboration opportunities between industry, government and the tertiary sector in South Australia.  

“Supashock has a strong partnership with both DSTG and Flinders on various levels and several of our staff are doing the Diploma in Digital Technologies at Tonsley with other members of the defence and other industries,” he says.  

Digital Logistics Specialist from DSTG’s Land Division, Mr Nicholas Brealey, who is based at Edinburgh, says many current digital twins focus predominantly on a software simulation with only one-way transfer of data.  

Professor Giselle Rampersad. Photo courtesy Department of Innovation and Skills.

“This research creates a more comprehensive digital twin as it focuses on the two-way transfer of data and the ability of the digital twin to initiate action in the physical vehicle. It is also very beneficial in providing a real-life demonstration of a digital twin which may help people to imagine new applications and possibilities for digital twins,” Mr Brealey says. 

Professor of Innovation at Flinders University, Giselle Rampersad, says digital twins offer benefits of preventative maintenance and condition monitoring of not only vehicles but in various domains such as frigates and submarines, satellites in space and other industrial settings such as advanced manufacturing.  

The Diploma of Digital Technologies took out the Innovation Collaboration award at the 2021 SA Training Awards run by the Department of Innovation and Skills and SA Skills Commission. The diploma was launched last year as part of a collaboration between Flinders University, BAE Systems Australia and TAFE SA at Flinders at Tonsley Innovation District.

“Projects such as these are important in understanding the value to organisations that can be derived during the lifecycle of a product from design reviews to the construction phase, remote monitoring and managing the supply chain while in use and for sustainment into the future,” Professor Rampersad says. 

Digital twin systems can apply to various vehicle components as well as an entire land vehicle and evaluate the role of human decision-making, particularly in sense and respond logistics, which relate directly to the Department of Defence’s L400 program of work. 

More broadly, it may offer significant implications for applications within commercial vehicles, adds Professor Rampersad, who will work with other Flinders University experts Professor Karl Sammut, Associate Professor Russell Brinkworth, Dr Andrew Lammas and Myles Adams for Flinders. 

As well as DSTG research leader Mr Brealey, the research team at Supashock also includes Mr Fiorinotto, Engineering Manager Dr Robert Koehler and Ashley Johns, who has studied the digital technologies course at Flinders University at Tonsley. 

The Diploma of Digital Technologies, a collaboration between Flinders University, BAE Systems Australia and TAFE SA, won the Industry Collaboration award in the 2021 South Australian Training Awards


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