A digital twin is precisely what its name suggests: A digital copy of a physical object or system—even a human being. It may be a simple concept, but the potential applications are anything but. Through the ongoing collection and exchange of data, a digital twin can simulate and even predict the behaviors and reactions of its physical twin in a variety of conditions, providing invaluable insights to industries ranging from manufacturing to healthcare.
Digital twin technology allows businesses and organizations to test products and processes, study and predict how real-world conditions can affect physical objects and beings, and make well-informed, big-impact decisions with minimized financial and human safety risks. Below, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share some of the fascinating ways industries and organizations are leveraging digital twin technology.
1. Minimizing Manufacturing Waste
We at Cuby use digital twin technology to make sure we produce 1-to-1 kits of the parts needed in our prefab construction process. It’s been estimated that up to 40% of the solid waste in the U.S. is construction and demolition waste. Manufacturing all the parts in advance allows us to reduce waste by up to 90%. – Aleksandr Gampel, Cuby Technologies, Inc.
2. Building Resilient Supply Chains
Businesses are increasingly using digital twin technology to build resilient and responsive supply chains. The digitization of supply chain processes provides businesses the opportunity to increase organizational efficiency by predicting serious problems and deceleration. In fact, it is estimated that by 2025, 80% of participants in industry ecosystems will rely on digital twin technology. – Radhika Krishnan, Hitachi Vantara
3. Mitigating Disruptions Due To Weather And Climate
Businesses are using digital twin technology to mitigate climate-related disruption. By combining data from public sources, such as weather data, with data from suppliers and partners, leaders can see how an unplanned weather event might impact the flow of goods across their supply chain, then use this insight to quickly pivot orders, routes or suppliers to limit waste and meet demand. – Rohit Shrivastava, Anaplan
4. Studying And Refining Processes
Process mining combined with simulation gives reliable visibility into as-executed processes (versus relying on what somebody thinks is happening) and the ability to do “what-if” analyses. This is effective because it allows one to see what’s really happening and simulate changes before making them. Often, changes do nothing or create a bigger problem elsewhere. Simulation and mining prevent that. – Michael Nyman, iGrafx
5. Making Data-Driven Manufacturing Decisions
The utilization of digital twins in the manufacturing industry has seen large growth. Digital twins increase productivity and reduce costs by combining the physical and digital worlds to make data-driven decisions, prolong asset life cycles and minimize unexpected maintenance disruption across assets. This modernizes the sector by moving from the “break and fix” approach to proactive maintenance. – Cindy Jaudon, IFS
6. Testing Health Intervention And Engagement Strategies
Health outcomes improve when patients are confident, connected and engaged. Digital twin technologies provide healthcare organizations the option to test drive new interventions and engagement strategies. This lowers the risks of rolling out new programs by testing hypotheses through a simulated pilot while also enabling cost-conscious innovation. – Trisha Swift, PricewaterhouseCoopers
7. Improving Patient Outcomes
A digital twin enables accurate and continuous monitoring. That data flow can inform data-driven decisions. For example, doctors are using an individual’s genetic makeup to model new organs for transplant. Because these processes can leverage a populationwide data set of digital twins, they can replicate an individual human body’s internal system to improve treatment outcomes for all. – Nicholas Domnisch, EES Health
8. Expanding Professional Services Capabilities
Knowledge-rich professional services firms are building digital twins of accountants, advisors and auditors using graph-based intelligent automation. These are distinct from previous technologies, because the decisions these professionals make are complex, contextual and nonlinear. In a world where there are big skills shortages and raging inflation, this form of IA is closing the gap. – James Duez, Rainbird Technologies
9. Onboarding And Knowledge Sharing
A digital twin use case that is an easy entry point and can provide quick ROI is training or onboarding. In areas where experienced employees are preparing for retirement, where there is high turnover or where there are general labor shortages, having a prerecorded “virtual” expert that can walk you through the instructions in real time can be a game changer and is much more effective than a giant paper manual. – Samantha Williams, Sonoco
10. Providing Safe Training
Today, manufacturing organizations are leveraging digital twin technologies to replicate machinery that would typically put employees in harm’s way. Here, a virtualized version of the original piece of machinery can be used to give employees training experience with the virtual machinery without also putting the employee’s health and safety in peril. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC
11. Understanding Multidimensional Problems
Digital twin technology shines the brightest when it helps companies better understand a multidimensional problem—one that is too complex to easily solve. Because it is a way to visualize and make better decisions, the technology has become extremely effective for everything from product design to diagnosing medical issues to better understanding variables that affect business expenses. – Josh Dunham, Reveel
12. Improving Manufacturing Efficiencies
A very interesting field of application is manufacturing. Thanks to a digital twin of a production plant, with all its different lines and machines, we can launch simulations to generate greater efficiency or to detect potential bottlenecks. Simulating the manufacture of new products or variants of existing products is also a very useful application. – Miguel Llorca, Torrent Group
13. Developing And Training Self-Driving Vehicles
Without digital twin technology, it would be impossible to develop self-driving vehicles at the scale and with the reliability we are witnessing nowadays. Billions of simulations on a “virtual road” by a “virtual car” allow for training machine learning models to forecast accidents and plan not just the fastest, but also the safest, routes so that drivers can entrust the actual driving to robots. – Aleks Farseev, SoMin.ai
14. Budgeting And Financial Planning
Financial and operational data is the lifeblood of a company, but it’s difficult to “see all of it” and understand it in real time. Digital twins offer real-time, big-data-enabled simulation modeling that can be particularly useful for budget and financial planning. The technology can streamline tasks such as procurement, case management and capital resiliency and deliver powerful insights for finance leaders. – Nicola Morini Bianzino, EY
15. Managing Traffic
Digital twins are already effectively used by urban planning councils in many U.S. cities for efficient traffic management. They help in simulating real-world congestion at junctions, predicting what may get worse when and where, and they can be used to test multiple mitigation techniques by leveraging the best mix of ML and city know-how. Dashcam-backed digital twins are explored alongside junction twins. – Pramod Konandur Prabhakar, Pelatro PLC
16. Simulating Real-World Conditions
One way businesses are leveraging digital twin technology is by using it to simulate the physical world. For example, a company can use a digital twin to simulate a real-life situation so that they can predict how their product or service will behave in that environment. Another way is by using it to understand how their customers use their services and products. – Leon Gordon, Pomerol Partners
Critics By Carlos Miskinis Digital twin research expert
To explain what Digital Twin means in simple words, it is a digital replica or a representation of a physical object (e.g. aircraft engine, person, vehicle) or an intangible system (e.g. marketing funnel, fulfillment process) that can be examined, altered and tested without interacting with it in the real world and avoiding negative consequences.
Think of it as an online platform for testing, creating and altering objects that are based in reality, without engaging with them in the real world itself. Technologies similar to this one have been used in various industries long before this concept was created, however, this new definition of the technology has much more potential, power, and scalability that can replicate, monitor and test virtually anything you can think of.
The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has complimented the adoption of this new technology, as IoT has resulted in its cost-effective implementation. Virtual twins have become imperative to business today, consistently named as a strategic technology trend in recent years. The complexity of technology has led to many questions within the industry. One of the most important ones is how is it changing the way design, planning, manufacturing, operation, simulation, and forecasting is traditionally functioning?
A physical twin that was replicated on a virtual platform is a near real-time digitized copy of a physical object. It is a bridge between the digital world and the physical world. Its core use is to optimize business performance, through the analysis of data and the monitoring of systems to prevent issues before they occur and prevent downtime. The simulations that are produced will help to develop and plan future opportunities and updates within the process or product.
The benefits of virtual twin technology are astronomical, with industries such as agriculture, government, transportation and retail experiencing rewards from the technology and benefits going forward. Companies must find methods to prevent the risk of potential product defects among their assets and future products. This piece of tech allows production costs to be minimized, as companies will save expenses when products are right the first time.
There is no need for expensive physical tests or updates to the products or process. Research with manufacturers has found that this concept will enable the reduction of development costs of the next generation of machines by well over 50%. The features of the tech also provide added confidence to boost product performance and aid complex decisions, preventing costly downtime to robotics and machinery.
The core benefit of why most companies started twinning their processes, products, and services via simulations is due to their efficiency. Businesses are racing to market their product faster than their competition, and having the ability to virtually simulate scenarios where a product is tested for failure via multiple angles helps the situation immensely. Not mentioning the fact that the development and testing costs are usually reduced hundreds of times.
This technology will be able to anticipate how the product and process will perform through digital simulations and analysis. The accessibility of reliable and consistently updated information provides the assurance needed to make faster decisions and increase the speed of production to overtake competitors. Here is a use case infographic we have presented in our workshop about understanding virtual twins – find event information here.
We can see how a virtual twin simulation is used to replicate and optimize machinery that regulates water flow in a factory. By doing this, developers can see every moving detail on the screen and then make the calculated decision to upgrade, optimize or make positive changes accordingly. Offices that adopt this technology early will attract innovative and leading talent. Offices will be able to incorporate interactive features to improve employee satisfaction and productivity using data-driven simulations.
Employees who will use digital twin technology will be able to expand their engagement with online tools, such as interactive maps to locate colleagues on the floor, book meetings and complete tasks with more diligence and accuracy. Managers will also be able to supervise remotely with the tool that will be similar to a 3D map that will be created using virtual online platforms that are based on simulations.
It is evident that the digital twin concept will benefit many people within the supply chain. Combining this disruptive concept with IoT technology is an incredible opportunity for businesses to improve. Ultimately, it will also allow stakeholders to improve the overall efficiency and cost of their business, and improve many aspects of work for employees….