Will There Be A Digital Twin For Everything And Everyone?

Markus Steer

In the first blog of this series on digital twins, I gave an overview of areas that benefit from a digital twin and discussed why is now the right time for businesses to look into this emerging technology. In this blog, I will offer some ideas on how to leverage digital twins for products and goods and their underlying manufacturing design.

Digital twins for products and goods

Innovative new digital twin technology now enables businesses to custom-design products, perform real-time simulation, and increase predictability, all while remaining agile and flexible to product configuration changes.

Why is the digital twin so crucial for success in today’s business environment?

Today, customers drive business. They want to design individual products that fit perfectly with their needs. The digital twin offers a new customer experience that offers information transparency, fast and easy order or product configuration change requests, and more. Processes are drastically simplified and information is instantly available to all relevant stakeholders—customers, manufacturers, operators, service reps, and others—from design to delivery.

In this context, looking at the entire demand chain and the supply chain generates extraordinary value. From product design through delivery to the customer, real-time data is the engine that drives agility and the ability to adapt to changes quickly and easily. Real-time access to data such as status, geo-location, quality, design, form and shape, layout, 3D geometry, color, material characteristics, bill-of-material, resources, and processes offers unprecedented value when it is attached to and represented via the digital twin.

The digital twin represents both customer demand and supply chain execution information. With that, individualized demand is channeled into the digital supply chain. This enables mass production to evolve towards mass customization and mass individualization. Via the digital twin, each individual product is represented digitally via the “lot size of one,” boosting manufacturing efficiency.

As a result, unwanted products are no longer produced—instead, manufacturing produces only what is needed. The digital twin represents exactly what an individual customer needs.

Businesses can then analyze Big Data from the supply and demand chains from all the digital twins, and use predictive analytics to forecast production more accurately.

Digital twins for manufacturing design

Digital technology on the shop floor and in the supply chain is not new. What is new is how manufacturing is connected with the digital twin to respond to fast-changing customer demand. Digital supply chains and processes and smart factory manufacturing will adapt to the lot size of one. The digital twin will simulate production and plant operations to optimize plant layout and accelerate production line design. This, in turn, will improve tool management, reduce inventory, reduce planned downtime, and avoid unplanned outages.

In Part 3 of the digital twin series, we’ll look at how services businesses benefit from the use of IoT sensors.

For more insight on digital twins, see Product Individualization And The Network Of Digital Twins.


Markus Steer

About Markus Steer

Markus Steer is an advisor with SAP & experienced leader for Digital Transformation to connect people, things and businesses to run the world better. He helps CEOs and Biz leaders to define their vision and leverage digital trends to transform their company. He provides guidance to CTOs and Enterprise Architects on end-to-end architecture design. Connect with Markus on LinkedIn.