Updated: Mar 22
If you had the opportunity to innovate with minimal risk of failure, would you use it? Obviously yes. The fear of making mistakes stands as a Berlin wall between businesses and progress. So, management should break it somehow.
Digital twin concept is considered by Gartner, Forbes, and other reputable companies as an efficient tool for this purpose. Following MarketsAndMarkets predictions, its global market size will skyrocket to a shocking $48.2 bln by 2026! Digital twin meaning is huge, so probably, it's time to dive into this technology and go beyond the competition with it. Read on to find real-life examples of digital twins and see what's under the hood of the virtual twins technology.
What Is a Digital Twin And How It Differs From Simulation
Digital twin definition in plain language
A digital twin is a program that uses data and mathematical calculations to recreate any real object in virtual space. You've probably heard about non-fungible tokens or the effortless disposal of material resources in digital mode. Many startups like Paxos are betting on it.
But what are virtual twins for digital transformation? First of all, they are its engines. Imagine creating a gas station or retail store replica using Industry 4.0 technologies. You could implement and test innovations in the digital space without risks. You could evaluate the bigger picture and understand what your business is missing. Wouldn't that prompt you to start improving your business as soon as possible?
It may seem that the digital twin is nothing more than a simulation. Indeed, they are too similar. But let's sort out the differences.
What is simulation?
Following Britannica, "it's a teaching technique that reproduces actual events and processes under test conditions." The simulation method also uses mathematical calculations. It also allows you to predict events and test innovations in an isolated digital mode.
The main difference between the digital twin and simulation results is the ability to be connected with a real analog during its entire life cycle. Digital twins use IoT and AI technologies to interact with their material copies, receiving real-time data about their state and operation. Moreover, this tool even lets you manage assets remotely using a digital copy. It sounds more imposing than regular simulation, doesn't it?
What Types of Virtual Twins Can You Choose From?
Digital Twin Prototype (DTP)
DTP is precisely the kind of twin that most resembles simulation. It is a model for testing and analysis made before creating the asset itself. This approach can reduce implementation costs and identify bottlenecks at the early stage. It is actively used in manufacturing, automotive, and aircraft construction. In other words, everywhere where companies often implement new tools for efficient operation.
Digital Twin Instance (DTI)
It's the second link in the hierarchy. DTI is an exact copy of an asset that allows companies to analyze its current state and test its performance in various artificially created conditions. It's often used for retail supply chain improvement or analyzing equipment operations in production. The approach avoids dangerous situations associated with deteriorating asset performance.
Digital Twin Aggregate (DTA)
Analyzing one asset's performance is good, but several are even better. DTA enables enterprises to track the interactions between objects and implement new ideas to improve them. It could be about a few machines in a production hall or all items within a smart city.
Business Benefits of Digital Twin You Should Know About
Lower operating costs
Identifying potential issues and fixing them at an early stage helps companies save on additional asset maintenance. Moreover, digital twin software minimizes the risk of downtime, which can be costly to a business.
A company can create DTP and make advanced testing of digital analog. It helps identify significant defects, preventing failures in the future and cutting time to market period.
Timely identification of equipment malfunctions saves employees' lives and a company's reputation. Due to digital twinning, businesses keep it on the radar and provide a rapid response to any inconsistencies.
Flawless data transferring
Using digital twins leads to better integration levels and flawless data exchange. Sure, it would be difficult to perform without the support of Industry 4.0 technologies. Anyway, DT is a sort of catalyst accelerating the creation of a unified ecosystem in an enterprise.
Generating new ideas
Tracking the condition of resources prompts management to take new approaches to improve the current situation. It leads to a less risky and relatively fast digital transformation process.
Real-Life Digital Twin Examples Illustrating Its Meaning for Businesses
Real estate & environmental protection
Did you know that construction is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions? Here digital twins examples can do more than help build smart cities. They also might reduce air pollution. Using this approach, developers can optimize the design, construction, and further operation of facilities. Besides, green-oriented management is also applicable to existing houses. It is enough to place the sensors inside a building, collect all the necessary data, perform mathematical calculations and create an exact dynamic copy of the object. According to the E&Y report, using digital twins, developers can save up to 35% of project costs and cut carbon emissions by 50-100%.
Supply Chain & Digital Twin Implementation: Example for Retailers
"Digital twin is a powerful tool that can be used throughout retail — both in the supply chain and in-store."
Partner General Manager, Microsoft
Digital twins are about the phenomena of digitization. Companies can recreate a dynamic supply chain model to validate ideas faster, reduce operating costs and ensure timely delivery. It allows for tracking a range of factors, such as:
the environment and weather conditions
traffic jams or any other blockers
the temperature, humidity inside the vehicle
the quantity and quality of items shipped, and many more
Consequently, digital twins help business leaders improve their supply chain operations with surgical precision. It collects terabytes of data in real-time to deliver accurate analytics allowing it to make valuable predictions and correct decisions.
In retail, this tendency can potentially migrate to the creation of digital twins of stores. This approach will allow retailers to shadow customer behavior, make accurate predictions regarding assortment, etc. For example, using a digital twin retailer could create heat maps showing where shoppers spend the most time.
Digital twin: manufacturing examples
Manufacturers adore digital twins for their ability to prevent downtimes and ensure timely equipment repair. Following Forbes, unplanned downtime costs can reach $50 billion a year. So the technology can save a considerable budget, support the manufacturer's reputation and ensure a better customer experience.
Unilever actively uses digital twin technology to support an appropriate environment in its manufacturing facilities. The company controls the operation of the equipment and optimizes the production process. The management forms a list of work scenarios and selects the best ones, minimizing the consumption of raw materials and simplifying staff operation.
The digital twin concept is deservedly a widely discussed topic. The technology applies to almost all industries and wins over with the ability to do business flawlessly. But more importantly, the digital twin eliminates the fear of something new. Using this approach encourages companies to initiate meaningful changes and implement them on a tight schedule.