Digital Twinning and Immersive Experience – Concord or Discord?

Unleashing the power of digital twins in uncertain times

It was an event that rattled global supply chains. The New York Times called it a “costly lesson in the vulnerabilities of sea trade”. The recent saga of a single gigantic ship blocking the Suez Canal and holding up more than 400 ships, plus billions of dollars in trade, has underlined how a single accident in a key trading lane can set off a chain reaction and cascade into a global crisis.

The event also highlighted the importance of having a robust tool in place that can help affected parties work through various what-if scenarios and available options to — if not completely mitigate — at least minimise the fallout from such accidents. Well, such tools do exist, and they are called digital supply chain twins. 

While even the most advanced AI-driven digital twin may not be able to accurately estimate the probability of strong winds forcing one of the largest ships in the world to run aground and choke up a major supply route, it can be an invaluable aid after the fact. For example, a digital supply chain twin can help shipowners figure out optimal decisions to take — for example, should they stay put outside the Suez Canal and wait it out, or should they reroute their ships around the Cape of Good Hope? A digital twin, with the help of complex machine learning algorithms, can help work out the ramifications of each decision, and how that one decision ripples out and impacts other decisions.

The promise of digital twins

The supply chain business typically has wafer-thin margins and hardly any room for expensive errors. Over time and with ample data, industry players can create digital twins and immersive experiences that deliver a bird’s-eye view of the entire supply chain. This complex model can then be used to validate decisions or predict outcomes. It can even be set to make autonomous decisions — for example, use sensors to track inventory levels at a warehouse and automatically update the manufacturing plant when stocks run low. Robots at the plant can, in turn, ramp up production without needing intervention from a human operator. In a report from 2017, Gartner estimated that, by 2021, “half of large industrial companies will use digital twins, resulting in those organizations gaining a 10% improvement in effectiveness”. This forecast was from before the Covid pandemic, and the actual number is likely to be far higher as organizations sped up their digital transformation in 2020.

Digital twins also feature prominently (PDF) on Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2020. While the idea of using virtual models has been around for a while, Deloitte asserts that organizations are now finding that increasingly sophisticated simulation and modeling capabilities, power visualization, better interoperability and IoT sensors, and more widely available platforms and tools are making it possible to create simulations that are more detailed and dynamic than ever. “Digital twins can increase efficiency in manufacturing, optimize supply chains, transform predictive field maintenance, aid in traffic congestion remediation, and much more.” And as capabilities and sophistication grow, Deloitte believes more organizations will use digital twins to optimize processes, make data-driven decisions in real time, and design new products, services, and business models. “In the long term, realizing digital twins’ full promise may require integrating systems and data across entire ecosystems.”

Similarly, EY observes that for supply chains, the benefits of having a digital twin are profound. “Because it mirrors the supply chain’s assets, transactions, third-party relationships and other operational details, the digital twin enables sophisticated real-time monitoring and adjustments,” says the study, adding that digital twins bring a broad and deep view of a supply chain, allowing companies to quickly model potential scenarios involving shifts in manufacturing lines, the availability of assets and people and adjustments to distribution flows or proactive risk monitoring. “Digital twins are the new weapon that the supply chain must have to transform effectively,” the report concludes.

Share:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Categories

Related Blogs

Supply Chain Management

Change is the only constant in Supply Chain Management (SCM)

A prime example of rapid and relentless evolution is supply chain management (SCM). New technologies and innovations have significantly boosted its capabilities, and SCM is now able to deliver a lot more than what was thought possible a few years back. Here is a look at some of the exciting new developments in the world of SCM.

Read More »
Supply Chain Management

Robotic automation is powering elastic logistics

Automation using robotics will also boost elastic logistics by enhancing efficiencies and productivity in warehouses, sorting centers and last-mile deliveries. Supply chain organizations are also expected to move away from a singular focus on becoming lean and cutting cost, and instead favor the building of “fail-safe elasticity” in managing demand.

Read More »

Latest Posts

Sustainability and green warriors

Bill Gates famously blogged: “We need an energy miracle… According to US government estimates, the world is going to need a lot more energy in the coming decades—an increase of 50 per cent or more between 2010 and 2040. But today, our biggest sources of energy are also big sources of carbon dioxide, which is causing climate change.”

Read More »

The Green Compute

Climate change is the new buzzword globally. Enterprises and consumers are looking at sustainable alternatives to protect the resources. One of the tallest industries that has leapfrogged into the Green Space is Information Technology (IT). Led by the top three vis. Amazon, Google and Microsoft, this sector is handholding large multi-continent corporations to MSMEs in their Green Compute journey.

Read More »

Look Before You Leap: Why Capability Modeling is Key to Industry 4.0 Success

Admittedly, the move from the Third Industrial Revolution to Industry 4.0 will not be easy. While enterprises are eager to adopt advanced digital technologies (Industrial IoT, predictive analytics, AI/ML, immersive tech, and the like), a number of roadblocks remain. Nearly 70% of projects are stuck in pilot purgatory, unable to scale beyond the initial proof of concept. Less than a third of manufacturing companies are deploying Industry 4.0 solutions at scale.

Read More »