Seemingly impossible business ideas can be visualized, tested, implemented and commercialized at scale: if you leverage the right technological consultancy.

Alex Teo, Managing Director and Vice President, SEA, Siemens Digital

South-east Asia (SEA) is home to some of the world’s most popular surfing destinations, boasting diverse and rapidly growing surfing communities.

However, the monsoon season is a signature feature of the Southeast Asian climate, and volatile weather conditions often leave surfers waiting for hours just to catch the perfect wave.

But what if we can outsmart nature and overcome environmental limitations to create the perfect waves wherever and whenever?

According to Alex Teo, Managing Director and Vice President (Southeast Asia), Siemens Digital, digital twin, IoT and other advanced digital technologies have enabled the economical mimicking of complex natural phenomena and even centralized management of the technology for commercial viability. Here is what we found out:

Replicating natural ocean waves

Most wave pools—even those that promote surfing capabilities—merely push water, which is easy. On the other hand, wave systems like that of surf pool company Surf Loch actually shape the water, which is extremely difficult.

Waves are formed within 1000th of a second. It goes without saying that recreating the perfect wave that perfectly mimics natural ocean-like tresses will require an astounding amount of calculation: from propagation and amplitude to wavelength. Replicating an ocean wave inside a wave pool consistently and repeatedly is a task that requires a combination of creativity and technology.

Ocean waves consist of more than just one type, and there is no ideal type of wave for beginners or professionals working on tricks and maneuvers. To meet the needs of its customers, Surf Loch had to ensure their equipment could create at least 10 different categories of waves.

This is where digital twins come into play. In consultation with digital transformation consultancy Siemens, the firm was able to combine the real and digital worlds using a digital twin of their target wave before reaching the test phase in their facility. They found that the virtual model they generated in the 3D world and the physical wave were identical.

In addition, their engineers used simulation technologies for airflow and strength analysis of the big pneumatic fans in the caissons, the structures through which the water comes through. Creating precise waves requires a combination of power and vacuum that can only be designed through the use of sophisticated simulation tools. Once in place, these tools now allowed the firm to replicate almost every characteristic of various wave types with a single machine—without having to change anything but the information in the motion control software, which can be done instantly.

Commercializing the technology

With an innovative product in place, the next challenge was to operate multiple sites around the globe. The ideal scenario was to manage all data from the global operations from one location, so that vendors, partners and the firm’s own team could revise designs collaboratively in real-time. This materialized into the adoption of a cloud-enabled collaboration platform running IoT technology combined with data monitoring and analytics that allows Surf Loch to control the status of all systems and even perform predictive maintenance.

So, by embracing digital transformation through attaining the right digital tools and automation to program and optimize their pools, Surf Loch managed to learn how to design, simulate, and optimize its product. The firm is now at a level where their brainchild can be packaged up and delivered to the public to bring surfing everywhere in the world at a cost that makes building the wave pool an economically viable investment.

Mimicking nature with technology

The dream is for every surfer to be able to choose their own wave on-the-fly, in a public setting with no technical experience. They should be able to walk out of the water, approach a kiosk or panel, push some buttons, and have their next wave personalized for them, all unsupervised.

Surf Loch’s wave pool technology is making this dream more achievable for surfers of all abilities to enjoy the sport, regardless of the size of the pool. The digital strategy behind this idea can be applied to other activities reliant on natural environmental conditions, especially in regions such as SEA that are affected by irregular weather conditions.

By leveraging today’s advanced digital technologies through a good technology consultancy, organizations like Surf Loch can speed innovation and create targeted solutions that tap on the strengths of Mother Nature while allowing hurdles to be bypassed.