What is Digital Twin Technology and How Does it Work?
Digital twin technology is a technology that replicates processes, products, or data from real-world assets. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a real object or process to better understand its physical characteristics and its behavior against real life scenarios and constraints. Digital twin technology is one of the fast-growing technologies in Industry 4.0.
► How it works
► Why use it
► Digital Twin Benefit
► How it applies in supply chain
How does Digital Twin Technology Work?
A digital twin is initiated from real data and in its most simplistic form is a box of algorithms (sometimes a black box…) that will process data/signal and deliver outputs through applying calculations of different complexities.
Digital twin software can be used for Research or for Operational purposes.
For operational purposes, the digital model typically receives feedback from sensors that gather data from the real-world on an ongoing basis. The amount of data available determines the complexity of a digital twin and how the virtual model stimulates the real-world physical version; one of the challenges is to understand what is the necessary data required to feed the model (too much or too little are the enemy!). This is the realm of the data scientist.
In summary, digital twin prototypes can be useful before a physical product is created, or to control the process during the manufacturing post prototype period. Therefore, a digital twin concept is often used in product development, planning, production and quality control management.
Why use Digital Twin Technology?
Digital twin technology can be developed for a wide range of applications. Digital twins can be used in any industry.
Digital twin examples
Digital twins can be used in any industries, a few examples:
► In the Pharma industry, we can create a digital twin of every single med produced, collecting information related to it and see its flow throughout the end to end supply chain. It allows full traceability for the patient and offers invaluable information for the optimization of supply chain network performance.
► In the Automotive industry, a digital twin can be used to design, test and iterate new pieces of an engine that can be tested digitally with thousands of real life scenario to identify 80% of the possible design issues. It allows the production of the prototypes that are most likely the best ones for additional physical tests.
► In Manufacturing, a digital twin example can be the replica of the actual production flows to identify productivity losses and bottlenecks to proactively act on these. Equally, in maintenance it can be used to predict necessary activities before getting to the breakdown stage.
The Benefits of Digital Twins (shortlist)
A digital twin allows the enhancement of strategies, prevents costly failure in physical objects, advanced monitoring and testing of processes/systems (among other things!).
Avoid CAPEX misallocation and risk
Digital twin technology allows companies to test and validate before the physical elements exist. For instance, by developing a virtual representation of production processes, digital twin enables manufacturers to identify any process bottleneck or misalignment in capacity before approving CAPEX.
Cost saving through preventive maintenance
The digital twin can identify when the deviation of specific inputs lead to reduced performance of the actual assets, be it a process or machine. Knowing this, the business can monitor a few key performance indicators results and make sure whenever deviations from the acceptable range occur, preventive actions are implemented.
Real-time remote monitoring and management by exception
A digital twin can be accessed anywhere and thus enables managers to monitor and control the systems remotely in real-time. Typically nudging individuals to focus where it matters most.
Examples of How Digital Twin Technology Apply in Supply Chain?
Operations along the supply chains in the modern era are increasingly changing in complexity, from manufacturing to distribution and product handling.
A digital twin can support each stage of the end to end supply chain in different ways. It can help to identify changes in demand and supply and suggest remedies. The digital twin can also help better plan transportation and delivery of products by using real-time data to apply immediate changes proactively.
Ultimately a digital twin is another smart way to aid Supply Chain professionals in focusing their attention.